Thursday, September 24, 2015

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Recommends to End Oil and Gas Development in Montana Tribal Lands

On September 21, 2015, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) recommended that the Departments of Agriculture and Interior revoke the Solenex Company’s permit to drill a single exploratory gas well in the Badger-Two Medicine area. The ACHP also requested cancellation of the lease authorizing Solenex to develop federal oil and gas reserves in the area.

In 1982, the U.S. Forest Service and BLM gave to Fina – now Solenex – the right to develop oil and gas resources in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana. The Badge-Two Medicine area is located within the National Forest and is designated as a Traditional Cultural District (TCD) under the National Register of Historic Places. The lease has been suspended since 1985 due to concerns from the Blackfeet Tribe that such project will adversely affect the religious and cultural value of the area.

In 2013, Solenex filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Interior challenging the action of the federal government to suspend its rights to drill a single exploratory gas well within the TCD. The case Solenex LLC v. Jewell et al. remains pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at docket no. 1:13-cv-00993.

As part of their recommendations, the ACHP observed that “[t]he proposed gas exploration and development would introduce activities and intrusions incompatible with the TCD and its unique qualities.” They also pointed out that “no mitigation measures would achieve an acceptable balance between historic preservation concerns and the undertaking [of the TCD].”

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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