2 more energy companies retire North Fork leases

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester say two more energy companies have agreed to retire their leases in the North Fork watershed of Montana's Flathead River.

Louisiana-based Allen and Kirmse, Ltd. will relinquish its interest in 50,889 acres of land in the region, which borders Glacier National Park and extends into British Columbia. Texas-based Anadarko will relinquish its interest in 24,111 acres.

The Montana Democrats introduced a bill in March that would prevent new oil and gas development and mining on the U.S. side of the North Fork watershed. The bill followed an agreement by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Premiere Gordon Campbell of British Columbia to protect the region.

Baucus and Tester say that so far the interest in more than 180,000 acres – nearly 76 percent – of the watershed has been given up by energy companies.