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Federal panel says Badger-Two Medicine "too sacred" for oil dril - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Federal panel says Badger-Two Medicine "too sacred" for oil drilling

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Land holds sacred significgance to the Blackfeet Tribe (MTN News photo) Land holds sacred significgance to the Blackfeet Tribe (MTN News photo)
WASHINGTON, DC -

A federal panel finds the Badger-Two Medicine country is "too sacred" to allow oil and gas drilling, saying operations would have "serious and irreparable degradation" to the culture of the Blackfeet Tribe.

The report, issued today by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, came after an extensive review of the plans by Solenex LLC, a Louisana-based company pressing to use an exploratory well first located in 1982. Solenex wants to develop the lease which covers 6,200 acres of land adjacent to the Blackfoot Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The ACHP came to the Front for a rare field hearing in Choteau a few weeks ago, with tribal leaders and members telling the independent agency oil and gas exploration in the Badger-Two Medicine would be devastating for Blackfeet. The tribe have considered the valley sacred for countless generations.

The panel was also told the valley is already a designated Traditional Cultural District under the National Historic Preservation Act, and is a critical wildlife area.

In its comment to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, the ACHP said the Solenex plans would be "so damaging" that a "living part" of the Blackfeet Tribe's "community life and development would be lost." 

"The cumulative effects of full field development, even with the mitigation measures proposed by Solenex, would result in serious and irreparable degradation of the historic values of the TCD that sustain the tribe. If necessary, the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, should seek authorizations from Congress to withdraw or cancel the Solenex lease," the ACHP writes.

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have set a schedule to decide whether the Solenex lease should be canceled.

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