Baucus, Tester announce BP to retire leases near North Fork of Flathead River
Senators Have Helped Secure the Return of 80 Percent of Leased Acreage at No Cost to Taxpayers
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today that BP has agreed to not pursue further oil and gas development on leases it owns near Montana's North Fork of the Flathead River, including one property located at the entrance of Glacier National Park. BP is the latest in a series of energy development companies with whom Baucus and Tester have brokered deals to voluntarily retire leases in the watershed. To date, the primary interest in more than 200,000 acres, about 80 percent of the total leased acreage, has been relinquished at no cost to the American taxpayers.
"In Montana, our outdoor heritage is in our blood– camping, hiking, hunting and fishing are a way of life. We have a responsibility to leave our state in even better shape that we found it so future generations can carry on this legacy,” Baucus said. “Permanently protecting the North Fork for our kids and grandkids has been one of my biggest priorities for many years and today’s decision by BP is another step toward that goal.”
“This is another right decision to keep this corner of Montana the way it was meant to be without costing taxpayers one penny,” Tester said. “Over the past year we’ve come a long way in making sure this landscape remains one of the world’s most famous outdoor places prized for its wildlife, fish and clean water. ”
The senators helped finalize an agreement by BP today to relinquish its interest in three leases, totaling about 1853 acres, in the region nicknamed the "Crown of the Continent" for its clean water and unspoiled forests, mountains and wildlife. Among BP’s leases is 394 acres at the entrance to Glacier National Park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
For the past 30 years, Baucus has been a steady and strong voice to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, beginning with his successful 1975 proposal to designate the Flathead as a Wild and Scenic River.
In March of 2010, 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 Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, voluntarily relinquishes its interest in 11 leases covering 21,000 acres.
- Nov. 19: BP voluntarily relinquishes its interest in three leases, covering 1852.91 acres, including land at the entrance of Glacier National Park.