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Groups appeal court decision to reinstate oil lease in the Badger-Two Medicine

Solenex's proposed well site is on the land known as the Badger-Two Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Solenex's proposed well site is on the land known as the Badger-Two Medicine.

Blackfeet tribal traditionalists and conservation groups on Wednesday appealed a federal court decision that reinstated a controversial lease in the Badger-Two Medicine.

It's the latest court filing in a decades-long battle over oil and gas development in the traditional homeland of the Blackfeet Nation.

The roughly 165,000 acre Badger-Two Medicine is a section of the Lewis and Clark National Forest along the Rocky Mountain Front. The landscape is sacred to the Blackfeet people and is popular with recreationists and hunters.

Tge legal battle over dozens of oil and gas leases within the Badger took a major step in 2016 when the federal government canceled any remaining leases, including one owned by Louisiana-based Solenex.

In September a federal court ruled that Solenex’s lease must be reinstated, saying the federal government lacked the authority to cancel the lease.

The Pikuni Traditionalist Association, which preserves Blackfeet culture, along with several conservation groups appealed that ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. They maintain that like many other leases issued in the region in the 1980s, the Solenex lease lacked an environmental assessment and was therefore issued illegally.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.