Tuesday, November 24, 2015

U.S. Department of Interior Cancels Federal Lease on Montana Tribal Lands

On November 23, 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior agreed to cancel the federal lease granting to Solenex Company the right to develop the oil and gas resources in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana, and submitted a proposed schedule for the remainder of the proceedings.  

In 2013, Solenex Company 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 Badger-Two Medicine area. This area is located within the Lewis and Clark National Forest and is designated as a Traditional Cultural District under the National Register of Historic Places. The Department of Interior suspended the lease in 1985 due to concerns from the Blackfeet Tribe that such project will adversely affect the religious and cultural value of the area.

In July 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied in part Solenex’s motion for summary judgment requesting the court to directly order the Department of Interior to lift the lease’s suspension; the court however left to the Department of Interior the decision whether to lift the suspension or continue the leasing process.

The U.S. Department of Interior anticipated the leasing cancellation “as early as December 11, 2015, or as soon thereafter as the Court approves the proposed schedule.”

More information on this case is available at docket no. 1:13-cv-00993.

This is an update of the blog post dated from September 24, 2015.

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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