The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has reached an agreement with Devon Energy to cancel over a dozen leases on federal lands in Montana.
The DOI said on Wednesday that Devon reached an agreement with the department to cancel 15 oil and gas leases in Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Cancellation of the leases entitles Devon to a refund for all rents and bonus bids paid, an amount that comes out to about $200,000.
The department said the lease cancellations address “outstanding concerns about the potential for oil and gas development in this culturally and ecologically important area.”
The affected leases were issued in the 1980s but have not seen any drilling activity since they were issued.
The DOI said that, because the leases were never developed, the area “remains undisturbed.”
Following the cancellation, there will only be two remaining leases in the area.
The Badger-Two Medicine Area is a 130,000-acre area along the Rocky Mountain Front within the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Congress legislatively withdrew the area from mineral development in 2006, the DOI added.
“We are proud to have worked alongside the Blackfeet Nation, U.S. Forest Service and Devon Energy to achieve this important milestone, rolling back decades-old leases and reinforcing the importance of developing resources in the right ways and the right places,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.