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Energy firm still seeking to drill on sacred Blackfeet Nation land

Filed Under: Environment | Law
More on: blackfeet, doi, doj, energy, montana, sacred sites
     
   

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

An energy company is asking a federal judge to revive a drilling lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation territory in Montana.

Solonex LLC was awarded the 6,200-acre lease in the early 1980s, during the Reagan administration. But the firm has never been able to drill for oil and gas in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine Area amid concerns raised by the tribe.

After a testy court fight, the Obama administration ended up canceling the lease in March, citing the potential for "irreparable" damage to the sacred area. But Solonex contends the action was unlawful and has asked a judge in Washington, D.C., to reinstate the lease.

"In an administration known for its lawless and disrespect for constitutional guarantees and the provisions of federal statute, the actions taken by the Obama administration regarding our client’s lease ... shock the conscience," William Perry Pendley, the president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which is representing Solonex, said in a press release last month.

Attorneys for the Obama administration responded to Solonex's claims on Monday, the Associated Press reported. They are defending the decision by the Interior Department to cancel the lease.

The "area was and remains 'one of the most cultural and religiously significant areas to the Blackfeet People since time immemorial,'" the Department of Justice wrote in a motion for summary judgement, quoting from a Blackfeet Nation resolution.

The Badger-Two Medicine Area consists of about 129,500 acres within the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The land was once part of the Blackfeet Nation but the tribe believes an 1885 treaty and an 1895 agreement protect its rights to use the land for ceremonies, hunting, fishing and other activities.

Read More on the Story:
US asks judge to uphold cancellation of Montana energy lease (AP 10/4)
Interior Defends Badger-Two Medicine Lease Cancellation (Montana Public Radio 10/4)
Federal judge asked to restore cancelled energy lease in sacred tribal area (Fox News 9/16)

Related Stories:
Blackfeet citizens want to join lawsuit over lease at sacred site (05/12)
Blackfeet Nation wants all energy leases canceled at sacred site (03/18)
DOI cancels lease on sacred Blackfeet Nation lands in Montana (3/17)
Lakota Country Times: Blackfeet Nation wins ruling for sacred site (12/08)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Blackfeet Nation gears up for action on drilling at sacred site (11/03)
Opinion: Sacred site designation in Montana kept from public (10/29)
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)

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