An announcement recently made by President Obama has left many people quite surprised. Obama let the nation know that no oil and gas leases would be allowed on sacred land belonging to the Blackfeet Tribe.
The Bureau of Land Management had granted leases previously to Devon Energy in Northwest Montana. The company was planning on using the 15 oil and gas leases it had to start drilling operations on 130,000 acres. Some of the leases were on Blackfeet land and Glacier National Park. All of the leases on disputed territory will be canceled. Devon Energy will receive close to $200,000 for the lease cancellation. Even though the leases were issued nearly three decades ago, no drilling projects on the leased land have been undertaken by the company since then.
Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued a public statement mentioning that the lease cancellation was the result of work done together with the U.S. Forest Service, Blackfeet Nation and Devon Energy. She stressed that resources should be developed in a proper manner.
Conservation officials have welcomed the move, as it helps in the preservation of a variety of protected wildlife species, including elks, bears and wolves. Montana is home to a diverse wildlife that sets it apart from the other states.
This recent development is seen as of great significance, as protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and hundreds of other indigenous tribes are currently going on at the site where the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to be built. The pipeline would have sections underneath the Missouri River, which protesters claim could cause dangers to a drinking water supply that millions of individuals in the region rely upon.