Missoulian: BP to retire oil, gas leases around Glacier National Park

The oil company BP voluntarily gave up its rights to explore for energy along the western border of Glacier National Park, U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced Friday.

“Permanently protecting the North Fork for our kids and grandkids has been one of my biggest priorities for many years,” Baucus said in a written statement. “Today’s decision by BP is another step toward that goal.”

The deal takes 1,853 acres out of potential exploration. That includes a 394-acre parcel near the Polebridge entrance to Glacier National Park.

“BP believes that relinquishing these acres back to the government is the right thing to do, and is consistent with good environmental stewardship in accordance with the wishes of the residents of the area,” BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said. “In addition, these leases have long been subject to development restrictions and are not strategic to BP’s North America gas business.”

The leases include all of BP’s remaining holdings in the North Fork Flathead. That brings the total of retired leases along the Flathead to more than 200,000 acres. About 50,000 acres remain under lease for potential oil and gas development.

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