Energy Lease Owner Seeks Court Approval to Drill Near Park
By MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday over whether a Louisiana company should be allowed to drill for natural gas on land near Glacier National Park that is considered sacred to the Blackfeet Indians.
A 6,200-acre lease was suspended by federal officials in 1993 along with dozens of other leases in the area.
Lease owner Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge filed a 2013 lawsuit to lift the suspension. The company wants U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C. to decide the case so it can drill this summer.
The U.S. Forest Service in December determined drilling would adversely affect the sacred site and reduce its spiritual power for the Blackfeet.
Tribal leaders have asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to cancel the lease and 17 others that remain suspended.
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