Tester joins Blackfeet Tribe in fight to protect Badger-Two Medicine
Senator: “This area has unique cultural, historical, spiritual and recreational significance”
(U.S. SENATE)-Senator Jon Tester today sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to cancel existing oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine, which is sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe and one of the Montana’s most pristine outdoor areas.
Tester has stated that protecting this unique land is similar to his efforts to protect the Rocky Mountain Front and North Fork of the Flathead River.
“This area has unique cultural, historical, spiritual, and recreational significance to the people of the Blackfeet Nation and Montana,” Tester wrote. ” I request that the remaining oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine be cancelled to prevent adverse effects to the land or the people of the region.”
Tester’s letter is supported by the Blackfeet Tribe and follows up on a letter the tribe sent to the departments last year contending that the tribe was never consulted and the environmental assessment was inadequate when the leases were granted.
The Badger-Two Medicine area is located at the intersection of the Blackfeet Reservation, Glacier National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. In 1982, 47 leases were granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Two years later, a drilling permit was approved on one of the leases, though drilling was stalled when a moratorium was placed on oil and gas drilling in the area.
Today all but 18 of the leases have been voluntarily relinquished, but pending litigation threatens to lift the suspension and allow for development within this sensitive area.
Tester recently met with the Blackfeet Tribal Council and they urged him to back their efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine. Last year, he passed historical conservation legislation to permanently protect the Rocky Mountain Front and the North Fork of the Flathead River-ensuring no oil and gas leases will be permitted on those pristine lands.