Court rules to cancel energy lease on land sacred to tribes

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for a Louisiana oil and gas company have asked a federal judge to reinstate a drilling lease it held on land considered sacred to Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada.

The long-disputed energy lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Reservation was cancelled in 2016 under then-U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. That decision was upheld by a federal appeals court last year.

But now Solenex LLC — the company that held the lease — is making another run at getting a court to restore its drilling rights. In court documents filed Thursday, company attorneys argued that Jewell exceeded her authority and the lease should be reinstated.

Solenex founder Sidney Longwell, who died last year, bought the lease in 1982 but never drilled on the site. Instead, Longwell confronted major bureaucratic delays within the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture that prompted the company to sue in 2013.

The Badger-Two-Medicine area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

Interior Department spokesperson Tyler Cherry declined comment on the case.

Solenex’s lawsuit is being waged by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a Colorado-based firm that pursues cases involving property rights, guns rights and other conservative causes.

The Associated Press

This story was originally published at apnews.com. Read it here.

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