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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Oil/Gas Leases Abandoned in Montana's Flathead River Valley

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
28 April 2010, 3:23 PM
Action by ConocoPhillips preserves 169,000 acres

Last February, after Canada banned mining and mineral development in its portion of the Flathead River Valley, Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso described the area as "a treasure more precious than coal or gold."

Today—thanks to a decision by ConocoPhillips—you can expand Preso's description to include oil and gas in Montana's portion of the Flathead Valley. Conoco announced that it was giving up its oil and gas leases on 169,000 acres near Glacier National Park.

The lease withdrawal follows a request from Montana's U.S. senators, and is part of the senators' larger strategy to ban all mineral development in the U.S. portion of the valley.

The Flathead Valley's dazzling wilderness has long been described in Canada as the "Crown of the Continent." Earthjustice and its Canadian counterpart, EcoJustice, jointly petitioned the United Nations in 2008 to investigate mining activities proposed for the valley.

According to E&E News:

The leases were issued in 1982 but have never been developed. They faced litigation over water pollution concerns, and a federal judge in 1988 put them on hold, ruling that the Reagan administration's decision to issue them without an environmental impact statement was improper. The statement was never prepared.

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