Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Agriculture secretary: Cancel leases on sacred Badger-Two Medicine land

Energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Traditional Cultural District should be canceled to avoid hurting land sacred to the Blackfeet Indians, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has recommended. “I agree that the Solenex APD (application for permit to drill) in the Badger-Two Medicine TCD will pose adverse effects to the TCD in ways that cannot be fully mitigated,” Vilsack wrote to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday. “Based on this information, gained through the full consideration of the spiritual and cultural significance of the Badger-Two Medicine TCD … I find that the balance of considerations weigh in favor of not lifting the suspension of operations and production. Therefore, I recommend that you take action as you deem consistent with your statutory and regulatory authorities to cancel the Solenex lease.” The recommendation was released just after some legal players moved to revive a 1997 lawsuit challenging the leases. And it puts increased focus on Interior Secretary Jewell’s Nov. 23 deadline to rule if the leases are legal. “The Forest Service has reaffirmed what we’ve said all along,” said Harry Barnes, chairman of the Blackfeet Business Council. “Drilling for oil in the Badger-Two Medicine would cause irreparable damage. We demand the cancellation of all illegal leases and the permanent protection of our sacred lands.”...more

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