The path towards environmental justice is long and arduous.
Environmental and social justice movements can sometimes feel futile when facing such powerful forces. Successes can feel intangible or impossible to obtain. However, since the Badger-Two Medicine was first leased out in the early 1980's, the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance and its Tribal and conservation partners have notched win after win. The momentum from these victories is snowballing and we are at a pivotal moment in our efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine. This issue unites both political conservatives and progressives. We are possibly at the cusp of getting all of the remaining 17 oil and gas leases canceled before the Obama administration leaves office, then we can turn our full focus towards developing a permanent protection plan. Check out the results of our work thus far.
Moratorium on New Oil and Gas Development
In 1993, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act, S. 853 (103rd Cong.), which proposed to conduct a wilderness review of the area by a committee that included tribal representation. Seizing on this opportunity, Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, suspended activity on oil and gas leases, citing the need to await congressional action.
Under the leadership of Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor, Gloria Flora, the US Forest Service placed a moratorium on new oil and gas development along the Rocky Mountain Front, including the Badger-Two Medicine, in 1997.
Sponsored by staunch conservative, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, congress passed legislation that made the 1997 US Forest Service moratorium permanent. President George. W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2007. President Bush then took a step further and encouraged the buyout of all current oil and gas leases.
Voluntary Retirement of Leases
By 2010, 29 of the 47 leases were relinquished by five of the nine leaseholders.
On November 16, 2016, the Interior Department - under the leadership of Sec. Sally Jewell - and Devon Energy reached an agreement to voluntarily retire their fifteen leases, comprising over 32,000 acres.
Cancellation of Leases
After an extensive study of the cultural value of the Badger-Two Medicine to the Blackfeet Nation in 2002, the Forest Service declared that nearly 100,000 acres were eligible to be listed as a Traditional Cultural District under the National Historic Preservation Act. About ten years later, that area officially became listed as a Traditional Cultural District.
In September of 2015, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation recommended the cancellation of all remaining leases in the Badger-Two Medicine because of its adverse effects on the Traditional Cultural District. Following the ACHP' recommendation, the Forest Service also recommended the cancellation of the remaining leases.
Taking the advice of the recommendations from the ACHP and Forest Service, the Department of the Interior made an informal commitment to cancel only the Solenex lease in November of 2015, as a response from Solenex's lawsuit against the federal government demanding that the Interior make a decision on their lease. In March of 2016, the Department of the Interior made the decision final and canceled the lease.