Montana Public Radio

natural gas

The Biden Administration continues its review of the federal oil and gas lease program during a freeze on new lease sales that recently drew protest from Montana political leadership.

The administration held a forum Thursday to hear from stakeholders as part of its program review.

The Department of Interior’s live forum drew around 600 viewers at its busiest, according to a ticker in the forum Zoom window.

Newly appointed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American person to hold the position, kicked off the event.

Montana’s attorney general is joining 20 other state attorneys general in suing to reverse Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to cancel a permit vital to building the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

Fourteen Republican attorneys general, including Montana’s, are protesting Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to cancel a border crossing permit vital to construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen in a letter to the president Tuesday urged Biden to reconsider the permit cancellation.

A U.S. district court judge on Oct. 16 rejected tribes’ request for a temporary hold on construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline in northern Montana.

The court will now determine whether President Donald Trump had authority to greenlight construction at the border between the United States and Canada.

Great Falls Judge Brian Morris said he won’t bar construction of a 1.2 mile section of pipe that crosses the U.S.-Canada border while he considers whether President Trump violated the U.S. constitution when he issued a 2019 permit.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Aug. 6, 2020 to include more detailed information about health and safety protocols TC Energy has required of its contracted workers, along with updated information from the Phillips County Health Department.

The developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline confirmed Aug. 5 that two of its workers in northern Montana tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week.

The State of Montana last week finalized its first set of comprehensive rules for disposal of oil and gas production waste.

The regulations for Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material, or TENORM, went through several rounds of public comment and revision before it reached its final form June 26. 

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruled Tuesday that a lower court was wrong to reinstate a contentious oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. 

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to increase domestic oil and gas output from public lands, saying officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued energy leases on hundreds of square miles.

A federal judge ruled in favor of environmental groups May 01 when he stopped thousands of acres worth of oil and gas lease sales in Montana.

Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls put a hold on almost 300 oil and gas lease sales Friday after he ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct an analysis of environmental effects on groundwater.

A federal judge in Montana will hear an appeal from U.S. attorneys on his decision to block a federal pipeline permitting program.

Great Falls Federal Judge Brian Morris Tuesday granted the government’s request for an expedited appeal but kept in place a hold on projects using Nationwide Permit 12.

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