Judge demands explanation for long delay on energy lease in area held sacred by Indian tribes

IndustriesAssociated Press

A federal judge is pressing U.S. officials to explain why it's taken three decades to decide on a proposal to drill for natural gas outside Glacier National Park in an area considered sacred by some Indian tribes in Montana and Canada.

A frustrated U.S. District Judge Richard Leon called the delay a "nightmare" during a recent hearing in Washington, D.C. He ordered the Interior and Agriculture departments to report back to him with any other example of where they have "dragged their feet" for so long.

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At issue is a 6,200-acre energy lease in northwest Montana's Badger-Two Medicine National Forest. The lease owned by Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been suspended since the 1990s.

Solenex sued to overturn the suspension and wants to begin drilling this summer.