Judge restores oil lease on land sacred to US, Canada tribes

BILLINGS — A federal judge on Friday ordered the Biden administration to reinstate a drilling lease that has been in dispute for decades on land near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation that is considered sacred to Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada.

The Badger-Two Medicine area just south of Glacier is land considered sacred to the Blackfeet tribes of the United States and Canada.

Provided by Gene Sentz

The 10-square-mile oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area of northwestern Montana was first issued in 1982. It was cancelled in 2016 under then-U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, at the request of the Blackfoot tribes and conservation groups.

There have been efforts to declare the area a national monument or make it a cultural heritage area, and tribal leaders have bitterly opposed drilling in recent decades.

But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said Jewell lacked the authority to withdraw the lease so many years after it was sold and after several prior studies examined the environmental and other impacts of drilling in the area.

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