Legal limbo: The 30-year battle over drilling rights in the Badger Two-Medicine

Thom Bridge

The Badger-Two Medicine region nestles between the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. It also lies in legal limbo after the latest court decision re-opened a fight over energy drilling rights that’s been going on for three decades.

On September 9, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the Department of Interior to re-instate a federal lease and drilling permit to Solenex LLC. That lease covers about 10 square miles of the Badger Two Medicine, and the permit potentially opens it to road-building for drilling rigs to explore for oil.

Last week, the coalition of environmental groups and Blackfeet cultural organizations returned to court seeking to overturn Leon’s latest order. It’s a back-and-forth routine that’s gone on since the 1980s. And while many thought the matter settled at the end of the Obama – and then Trump – administrations, it now appears to live on through the Biden administration.

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On this episode, Missoulian reporter Josh Murdock and Managing Editor Rob Chaney recount the history of the Badger-Two Medicine legal fight and why this place is important.

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