Baucus, Tester announce more lease retirements in North Fork

Companies agree to relinquish leases at no cost to U.S. taxpayers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Two more American companies have agreed to retire their interest in leases in the North Fork watershed of Montana’s Flathead River at no cost to U.S. taxpayers, Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today.

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 stretches into British Columbia.  Texas-based energy company Anadarko will relinquish its interest in 24,111 acres.

Today’s announcement means neither company will pursue oil exploration in an area dubbed the “Crown of the Continent” for its clean water and unspoiled forests, mountains and wildlife.

Both Allen and Kirmse, Ltd and Anadarko partially owned their leases with oil giant ConocoPhillips, which announced its retirement of interest in all leases in the North Fork in April.  Chevron followed suit by announcing retiring its North Fork leases several weeks later.

“This is more good news for Montana’s outdoor heritage,” said Baucus, who has been working for more than three decades to protect the North Fork from mining and oil and gas development.  “This means we are even closer to keeping the North Fork the way it was meant to be, for future generations to hunt, fish, camp, snowmobile, and enjoy.”

“More and more folks are stepping up to do the right thing as we move forward to keep development out of the North Fork,” Tester said.  “We still have more work to do, but we’re picking up a lot of momentum in this joint effort with Max and Brian.  It goes to show businesses all over the world recognize how unique the North Fork is.”

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 bill followed a historic memorandum of understanding to protect the region on both sides of the border signed in February by Governor Brian Schweitzer and Premiere Gordon Campbell of British Columbia.

With today’s announcement, the full interest in more than 180,000 acres—nearly 76 percent—of the North Fork watershed have been relinquished by oil companies at the request of Baucus and Tester at no cost to American taxpayers.