Environment | Opinion

Opinion: Sacred site designation in Montana kept from public






Badger Creek in the Badger-Two Medicine Area in Montana. Photo from Blackfeet Nation

Dave Galt, the executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association, supports energy development in the Badger-Two Medicine Area despite opposition from the supports Blackfeet Nation:
Sidney Longwell, owner of Solenex, has been fighting for his legal right to use a drilling permit the Forest Service and BLM alike have previously approved, on a lease which he legally obtained.

The first approved application for a permit to drill (APD) was granted in 1985 by the BLM. In 1987, the BLM issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” and reapproved the lease. Then, in 1991, following a joint Decision of Record by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM approving the APD based on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the BLM approved the APD. Finally, in 1993, the Solenex received a fourth approval of the APD, which was signed by the assistant secretary of the Interior Department.

Legal challenges and congressional suspensions have waylaid development for more than two decades. Meanwhile, the boundaries of the Badger-Two Medicine Traditional Cultural District where the Solenex lease rests have been expanded, following four ethnographic studies. The area has grown from 90,000 acres to more than 165,000 acres, making it one of the largest TCDs in the country. It should be noted that the Solenex lease area was not incorporated into the TCD until the latest ethnographic study (2010), which was heavily redacted, concealing justification for the expansion from the public, and essentially stonewalling the leaseholder in meetings to discuss alternative development strategies.

Conveniently, opponents have found their way around the facts in order to strip Longwell of his legal rights, with the former superintendents calling energy development in the Badger Two Medicine “an intolerable assault” on the values of the park and the Blackfeet people.

Get the Story:
Dave Galt: Badger Two Medicine lease worth fighting for (The Great Falls Tribune 10/29)

Related Stories:
Blackfeet Nation states opposition to drilling on sacred land (09/03)
Obama promises long-overdue action on drilling on sacred land (08/19)
Judge upset with delay in drilling dispute affecting sacred land (07/29)
Blackfeet Nation reiterates opposition to drilling on sacred land (07/10)
Blackfeet Nation to honor Sen. Tester for sacred site support (06/25)
Judge questions delay in drilling on Blackfeet Nation sacred site (06/17)
Judge to hear arguments in Blackfeet Nation sacred site dispute (6/9)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (04/23)
Blackfeet Nation opposes energy development on sacred lands (03/30)