Energy Companies Retire Oil and Gas Leases

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced that five energy companies have agreed to relinquish oil and gas leases on nearly 29,000 acres in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front adjacent to Glacier National Park.

Baucus said this step “will help preclude oil and gas development and preserve fish and wildlife habitat in this unique area, which is important to citizens of Montana and the rest of the country.”

The oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine (BTM) area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest were returned to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and cannot be leased again because they are located in an area withdrawn from future leasing under a law that Baucus helped enact in 2006. Collectively, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Williams Cos., Rosewood Resources, XTO Energy Inc., and BP are relinquishing leases on 28,730 acres. The companies voluntarily relinquished their leases and did not receive any consideration for their actions.

“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Baucus for facilitating this agreement and for his commitment to the Rocky Mountain Front,” said Ray R. Irani, Ph.D., chair and chief executive officer of Occidental Petroleum. “Returning these leases in this iconic national forest to the federal government is the right thing to do and is consistent with Oxy’s commitment to safeguarding the environment.”

Of the more than 152,000 acres of federal mineral leases originally held along the Front, nearly 111,000 acres will be permanently retired after this transaction. These protected federal lands will complement tens of thousands of privately owned acres already put into conservation easements in this area.

BTM has no existing infrastructure or drilling activity and serves as key habitat for several high-profile species, including grizzly bears, wolves, bighorn sheep and cutthroat trout..

“The Badger-Two Medicine area of the Front is a vital part of our Blackfeet history and culture,” commented Keith Tatsey, chair of the BTM Management Committee. “By retiring these leases, we will continue to have the opportunity to experience the life our ancestors understood would provide strength, subsistence, cultural identity and to connect us with our creator.”

Supporting organizations include: Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Williams Cos., Anaconda Sportsman’s Club, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Big Sky Upland Bird Association, Boone & Crockett Club, Dawson County Rod & Gun Club, Federation of Fly Fishers, Flathead Wildlife Inc., Helena Hunters & Anglers Association, Hellgate Hunters & Anglers, Laurel Rod & Gun Club, Montana Rivers, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Mule Deer Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Park County Rod & Gun Club, Public Land and Water Access Association, Russell Country Sportsmen’s Association, Skyline Sportsmen’s Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and The Wilderness Society.

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