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Success! Energy Leases Canceled in Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine

After years of dedicated effort from the Blackfeet Nation and our conservation partners, the U.S. finally cancels Solenex energy leases.

On March 17, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel announced the cancellation of leases held by the energy company Solenex in Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine region.

The government concluded that the lease, issued in 1982, had been improperly let, and that drilling in the region would cause permanent damage to the area’s sensitive plant and animal communities, and the cultural values that the Blackfeet people hold for this landscape.

Photo: Stephen Legault

This is extraordinary news, and represents the best possible outcome for Badger-Two Medicine. In fact, many groups who have been working on this issue since Solenex announced their intent to sue the federal government to gain access to this lease four years ago did not expect this outcome.

The Solenex lease represented roughly 6,000 ac (2,400 ha) of the region. We hope the federal government will take the next logical step and move to cancel Devon Energy’s 40,000 ac (16,000 ha) of leases in the heart of Badger Two Medicine.

“We congratulate and commend the extraordinary effort made by our friends in the Blackfeet Nation, the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, Montana Wilderness Association, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Society and Earthjustice on this important victory,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y’s Program Director for the Crown, Alberta and NWT, and the point person on this issue. “We are proud of this amazing collaborative effort.”

Photo: Stephen Legault

The Crown Conservation Initiative (CCI), which is hosted by Y2Y, played a largely behind-the-scenes role in this effort. Starting in 2011, CCI began convening regular calls and meetings to advance conservation for this ecologically and culturally important region.

“We now have a great opportunity to advance a collaborative approach to permanent protection of the region’s cultural and natural heritage, and we’re thrilled to lend our voice to this important piece of the Crown of the Continent,” says Legault.

Photo: Stephen Legault
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