Flathead Beacon: Exxon Subsidiary Retires Leases in North Fork

A subsidiary of the Exxon Mobil Corporation has decided not to pursue oil and gas development on more than 21,000 acres of leased land in the North Fork of the Flathead River.

The subsidiary, XTO Energy, notified Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester that it is retiring 11 leases, according to a statement released on Sept. 10. With the announcement, 80 percent of leases in the region have been voluntarily retired.

In a statement, Baucus called the announcement “great news for Montana and for all folks who enjoy our outdoor heritage.”

“I’m thrilled that Exxon has become the latest company to step up to the plate and protect the future of this special place, so future generations can camp, hike, hunt and fish there like we do,” the senator said.

In February, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell signed memorandum of understanding to ban drilling and mining in the Flathead Valley along the U.S.-Canada border. The prospect of gas drilling, gold exploration and coal mining in the million-acre valley, near Glacier National Park, had sparked a long-running transboundary dispute leading up to the agreement.

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