BROWNING – Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation are welcoming Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s statement of continued support for protection of the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Three years ago, the Obama administration had canceled leases for exploratory gas and oil drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine, seemingly ending a 30-year old controversy over preserving the area, which is located southwest of Browning adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
But Solenex LLC, which held those leases, appealed the case. And in September, a federal judge ordered the Interior Department to re-instate the company’s leases.
But on Tuesday, Zinke, a former Montana congressman, said Interior will ask a higher court to review Judge Richard Leon’s ruling, saying drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine shouldn’t be allowed. Zinke said he has “tremendous respect” for the Blackfeet and says energy development there would be “inappropriate.”
On Wednesday, Blackfeet leaders are saying they plan to work directly with Zinke to “vigorously defend” the tribe’s heritage and cultural ties to the Badger-Two Medicine.
Story by Dennis Bragg, MTN News