About 30 people gathered at the Women’s Club in East Glacier on Thursday, Nov. 21, for a celebration hosted by the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance to commemorate the recent retirement of an oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area. Revelers enjoyed cake, refreshments, music and conversation. A thank you card was signed for the Wyss Foundation in gratitude for their critical role in the retirement of the lease. Tribal Historic Preservation Officer John Murray offered a few spontaneous reflections on the decades-long struggle to eliminate oil and gas leases in the Badger, the significance of the latest achievement, and the importance of Blackfeet leaders and conservation groups working together to the recent progress toward more-lasting protections for the area.
The celebration was capped off by ceremonially burning a copy of the original lease, a moment accompanied by lots of hoots, hollers and loud applause.
“This is the only energy ever extracted from that lease!” Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance Executive Director Peter Metcalf said amidst the revelry.
Following the Sept. 30 decision by Texas-based Moncrief Oil and Gas Master’s to retire its lease, only one lease out of an original 47 now legally remains in the Badger. Located at Hall Creek, the remaining lease is held by Solenex LLC of Louisiana and, like Moncrief’s now retired lease, had been cancelled by the Department of Interior in 2016 on the grounds that the government failed to lawfully consider cultural resource impacts and environmental impacts when it originally issued the lease. However, a federal district court ordered the lease reinstated last year.
The Department of Interior and a coalition of Blackfeet and conservation organizations, including the Pikuni Traditionalists Association and Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, have appealed that decision. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for late January in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. In the meantime, the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance and other appellants remain open to an out-of-court settlement, Metcalf said.