Baucus and Tester announce Exxon subsidiary to retire leases near North Fork of Flathead River
Energy company is latest to retire oil and gas leases in region at no cost to U.S. taxpayers
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today that XTO Energy, a subsidiary of the Exxon Mobil Corporation, will not pursue oil and gas development on more than 21,000 acres of land near Montana’s North Fork of the Flathead River.
The senators said that XTO, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has notified them it will relinquish its interest in 11 leases in the region, meaning it will no longer pursue oil and gas exploration in the area, nicknamed the “Crown of the Continent” for its clean water and unspoiled forests, mountains and wildlife. XTO joins several other energy development companies in voluntarily retiring leases in the North Fork watershed at no cost to U.S. taxpayers.
Today’s announcement means that more than 200,000 acres, approximately 79 percent of the leased acreage, have been voluntarily retired, free of charge to the American taxpayer.
For the past 30 years, Baucus has been a steady and strong voice to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, beginning with the successful 1975 proposal to designate the Flathead as a Wild and Scenic River.
“This is great news for Montana and for all folks who enjoy our outdoor heritage. Permanently protecting the North Fork for our kids and grandkids has been one of my biggest priorities over the years. This is another great step in the right direction,” said Baucus. “I’m thrilled that Exxon has become the latest company to step up to the plate and protect the future of this special place, so future generations can camp, hike, hunt and fish there like we do.”
“As word gets out about Montana’s efforts to keep this region the way it was meant to be, more companies are agreeing to do the right thing—all at no cost to American taxpayers,” Tester said. “We’ve got a good team fighting for the future of the North Fork and working together, we’re picking up momentum along the way.”
“Oil and gas drilling can be done in a sensitive way that protects the environment,” said Jack Williams, president of XTO. “What we’re doing today by surrendering these leases, is enabling the conservation of this special area for generations to come who enjoy our outdoor heritage.”
In March, Baucus and Tester introduced the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, which would prevent new oil and gas development and mining on the American side of the North Fork watershed. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill on August 5, and it is awaiting Senate floor action.
- March 4: Baucus and Tester introduce S. 3075, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2010.
- April 28: ConocoPhillips voluntarily relinquishes its interest in 108 federal oil and gas leases covering approximately 169,000 acres in the region.
- June 2: Chevron voluntarily relinquishes its interest in four leases covering approximately 11,121 acres.
- June 28: At Baucus’ and Tester’s request, President Obama discusses cooperative efforts to protect the North Fork with Canadian Prime Minister Harper.
- July 14: Anadarko voluntarily relinquishes its interest in eight leases, jointly owned with ConocoPhillips, covering 24,111.57 acres.
- July 14: Allen and Kirmse, Ltd. voluntarily relinquishes its interest in 50 leases, jointly owned with ConocoPhillips covering 50,889 acres.
- August 5: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passes S. 3075, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2010.
- Sept. 9: XTO voluntarily relinquishes its interest in 11 leases covering 21,000 acres.