Judge wants quicker decision on energy lease near Glacier

The Associated Press

A federal judge wants the government to speed up its consideration of a long-stalled drilling proposal near Glacier National Park that's on land sacred to American Indians in the U.S. and Canada.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge wants the government to speed up its consideration of a long-stalled oil and gas drilling proposal near Glacier National Park that's on land sacred to American Indians in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the Interior Department to decide by Nov. 23 whether to start the process of canceling the energy lease at issue, or move to lift a suspension on oil and gas drilling.

Louisiana-based Solenex LLC sued the government in 2013, challenging the three-decade suspension.

The Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada are opposed to drilling on what they consider their spiritual homeland. They say U.S. officials illegally issued the lease in 1982.

Last month, a federal historic preservation panel recommended the government cancel the 6,200-acre lease, in northwest Montana's Badger-Two Medicine area.

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