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WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Blackfeet Nation Chairman Harry Barnes and Devon Energy Corporation President and CEO David Hager to announce that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has canceled 15 additional oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in northwestern Montana. Devon Energy owns an interest in these federal leases. The lease cancellations address outstanding concerns about the potential for oil and gas development in this culturally and ecologically important area.
“Today’s action honors the Badger-Two Medicine Area’s rich cultural and natural resources and will ensure it is protected for future generations,” said Secretary Jewell. “We are proud to have worked alongside the Blackfeet Nation, U.S. Forest Service and Devon Energy to achieve this important milestone, rolling back decades-old leases and reinforcing the importance of developing resources in the right ways and the right places.”
“There are special places in this world where we just shouldn’t drill, and the Badger-Two Medicine is one of those places. This region carries great cultural and historical significance to the Blackfeet Tribe and today’s announcement will ensure that the Badger-Two Medicine will remain pristine for both the Tribe and the folks who love to hunt, hike, and fish near Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness,” said Senator Tester.
The Badger-Two Medicine Area is a 130,000-acre area along the Rocky Mountain Front within the Lewis and Clark National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation surround the area, which is considered sacred by the Blackfeet Tribe and is part of a recognized Traditional Cultural District. These characteristics caused Congress to legislatively withdraw the area from mineral development in 2006.
“We’re pleased and proud to celebrate the collaboration that has brought us to this agreement,” said Dave Hager. “We know how important this is to the Blackfeet people, and we appreciate the work the Interior Department has done to make it possible. For Devon, cancellation of these leases at this time is simply the right thing to do.”
The leases being canceled today were issued in the 1980s and have not had any drilling on the area since issuance.
“Our pursuit to protect the Badger-Two Medicine has lasted more than three decades, and it will continue until all the illegal oil and gas leases are cancelled and the area is permanently protected,” Chairman Barnes said. “This area is sacred to the Blackfeet people, and we appreciate that others are starting to recognize it as well. There are many who have helped us get to this point today, but I want to especially recognize Devon Energy for its leadership and willingness to partner with Indian Country."
The cancellation respects recommendations by the U.S. Forest Service, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and concerns expressed by the Blackfeet Tribe and interested members of the public. It is also consistent with the BLM decision earlier this year to cancel the lease held by Solonex LLC.
Because the Devon leases were never developed, the area remains undisturbed. Cancellation of the leases entitles Devon to a refund for all rents and bonus bids paid – about $200,000. After today’s announcement, there are only two remaining leases in the area.