US cancels final two oil and gas leases in Badger-Two Medicine

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Interior Department has canceled 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.

The agency said Tuesday it had notified lease owners in Nebraska and Texas of the cancellations.

The undeveloped leases were issued in the 1980s in the Badger Two-Medicine area. That's the site of the creation story for Montana's Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfoot tribes of Canada.

Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes says the area is like a church to his people and needs to be protected.

The Interior Department in November cancelled 15 leases in the area held by Devon Energy.

Another lease was cancelled in March, but that's subject to a pending federal court challenge by Louisiana-based Solenex LLC.