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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the final two oil and gas leases in a wilderness area bordering Glacier National Park that's sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of Montana and Canada, more than three decades after the tribes said the leases were illegally sold.
Lease owners in Nebraska and Texas were notified of the cancellations in a letter from Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Conner and offered refunds of about $30,000 each.
Move - Court - Challenge - Lawsuit - Lease
The move is subject to a potential court challenge. A lawsuit against another lease cancellation in the area last year is pending before U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C.
The undeveloped leases were issued in the 1980s in the Badger Two-Medicine area, the site of the creation story for Montana's Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of Canada. Tribal members had argued that the leases were sold improperly and without due consideration of the area's cultural significance.
Blackfeet - Tribal - Chairman - Harry - Barnes
Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes said his people were grateful for the cancellation.
"This area is like a church to our people," Barnes said. "We've lived for 30 years under the threat that it might be industrialized."
Leases - Tuesday - WA - Moncrief - Moncrief
The leases cancelled Tuesday were held by W.A. Moncrief with Moncrief Oil and Montex Drilling of Fort Worth,...
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