Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of the Interior

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.

Tester Votes Yes, Daines No On Haaland Confirmation

Mar 16, 2021

Montana U.S. Senators split their votes Monday along a largely party-line vote to confirm Pres. Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of the Interior.

In a 51-40 vote, Senators confirmed Deb Haaland to be the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in U.S. History.

A member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, the 60 year old New Mexican Congresswoman received strong support from many tribal nations in Montana, including, most recently, the Crow Nation.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines followed through on his promise to vote against Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination as Secretary of the Interior today but the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced her nomination despite GOP opposition.

In an 11 to 9 vote, the committee voted to favorably report Congresswoman Haaland’s nomination as Secretary of the Interior.

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range near Moiese, MT.
Josh Burnham

The U.S. Interior Department Friday signed an order that will start the transfer of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

A woman stands in a stream fly fishing
PD

Critics say a U.S. Department of Interior order issued earlier this week guts a federal program that uses money from oil and gas drilling to buy land for recreation and conservation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) received full funding of $900 million per year for the first time in its half-century history when the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law in early August.

A federal judge in Montana has ousted President Trump's top public lands official.

The ruling blocks William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve as the temporary head of the Bureau of Land Management, a post he has held for more than a year.

The judge ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who argued it's illegal for Pendley to lead the agency because he had never been confirmed by the Senate.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in central Montana
BLM (PD)

A lawsuit filed by Gov. Steve Bullock in federal court Monday alleges that Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director William Perry Pendley is violating federal law by exercising the authority of the bureau’s director while awaiting confirmation from the Senate.

Environmental groups filed the latest in a series of federal lawsuits against the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, this time challenging a permit to cross federal lands.

In a lawsuit filed July 14 the groups argue that the U.S. Department of Interior failed to follow environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act when it greenlighted a right-of-way across more than 40 miles of federal land in Montana earlier this year.

David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee held its first hearing Wednesday on the Montana Water Rights Protection Act. The legislation would settle long-disputed water rights claims of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

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. 

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