(NaturalNews) It’s one of the few victories for the people against an out-of-control federal agency that is growing more lawless and arrogant by the year.
As reported by Indian Country Today, the Bureau of Land Management, which falls under the Department of the Interior (as does the Bureau of Indian Affairs), was forced to cancel an oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region in northwestern Montana earlier this month, thereby keeping land that is culturally and traditionally sacred to members of the Blackfoot Nation pristine.
“It’s a very historic day for the Blackfeet,” said John Murray, the Blackfeet Nation’s Historic Preservation Officer, Indian Country Today reported.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, in a statement announcing the decision, said that it was the correct action to take on behalf of the tribe and its future members.
“Today’s action honors Badger-Two Medicine’s rich cultural and natural resources and recognizes the irreparable impacts that oil and gas development would have on them,” Jewell said.
Decision ends all legal wrangling
Indian Country Today reported further:
The 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine region, part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest, is wedged between Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The area is historically, culturally and spiritually significant to the Blackfeet Tribe and is part of a recognized Traditional Cultural District, characteristics that caused Congress to legislatively withdraw the area from mineral development in 2006.
“It’s not a wilderness,” said Murray. “It is a living Blackfeet landscape.”
The BLM had issued a 6,200-acre oil and gas lease to Solenex, of Louisiana, under then-Interior Secretary James Watt in 1982, but operations have been in limbo since 1985. BLM since determined that the lease was not properly issued because it violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historical Preservation Act, the department said. Jewell’s decision came after carefully examining the record and following consultations with the U.S. Forest Service, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Blackfeet tribe, the lease-holding company and other concerned parties.
A number of ethnographic studies and one archeological study have been done on the tract of land.
The BLM decision ends legal attempts by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which was litigating on behalf of Solenex in challenging the Interior Department’s Nov. 23 decision to cancel the lease.
Every single one of the originally issued leases to the region have undergone a plethora of administrative, legal and legislative actions since they were handed down more than three decades ago due to the significance of the Badger-Two Medicine region and over concerns about circumstances that led to the lease issuance.
Indian Country reported that some two-thirds of original leaseholders took advantage of tax incentives that Congress established in exchange for voluntarily relinquishing leases to the region.
“There was only one lease that was subject to the court, but overall there are 18 leases,” Murray said. “We are hopeful that the rest of them are going to be canceled also.”
The BLM has been at the center of various controversies in recent years, more so than in the past. As NewsTarget.com reported earlier this month, the agency that most Americans never heard of made the news when about 200 armed agents in SWAT gear surrounded a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy in April 2014 with automatic weapons, helicopters and government snipers.
Then in January, a group of armed men led by Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s son, took over a small building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest terroristic actions taken by the BLM against Western ranchers.
As further reported by The Daily Sheeple, BLM agents were caught on video setting fires that became uncontrolled and were left to burn unmonitored around Prince Glenn, Oregon, (not very different from what another ranch family, the Hammonds, were jailed for – burning government land).
So, to see people actually win a legal battle against BLM and the Interior Department is a refreshing change.
Written by J.D. Heyes
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