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Anschutze Leaves Blackfeet Country – but who’s going to clean up the mess?

In the wake of what some are calling great news, there’s a new legacy on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation – post fracking, but what should be expected? As Anschutz Oil announced it’s leaving the Blackfeet Reservation after drilling 14 exploratory wells, (related story from the Denver Post) there are many questions unanswered, and an uncertain future on the Reservation.

Just because they “pulled out,” does not mean it’s time to quit thinking about oil exploration and the legacy now left in the hands of the Blackfeet people. The truth is, there are impacts and there will continue to be impacts long into the future from fracking and drilling.

anschutz oil well on the blackfeet indian reservation

Anschutz oil well on the Blackfeet Indian reservation – ©

In fairness to the Blackfeet Tribe and Anschutz Oil, we have not seen any plans to restore any of the sights. To our knowledge, the tribal public is not sure what to expect in the way of clean up, restoration or monitoring. The Tribe and BIA have not been forthcoming with it’s plans for clean up and restoration.

There still are many questions.  Who will monitor the wells?  What is going to happen to the producing wells?  Will there me more fracking of existing wells? Will another oil company come in and do more exploration? Who’s watching over Anschutz or whomever buys and operates the what they left behind? There is a legacy and a cost to oil exploration, the question is who’s going to pay and what does the future hold?

Maybe the newly formed Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance can shed some light on this?  Here’s their facebook page:  Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance 

Only the Blackfeet Tribe has the answers.

Tony Bynum



2 Responses to “Anschutze Leaves Blackfeet Country – but who’s going to clean up the mess?”

  1. lld says:

    Tony – certainly there were plans, within a drilling agreement, for cleanup. Not? I appreciate your efforts to keep us on the front of this story.

  2. Tony says:

    Thank you LLD . . . there most certainly were/are, specifics in a contract, but that issue is really at the heart of the matter and why I’ve chosen for so long to provide information in the form of photos and a blog.

    The main issue is transparency and information. There is none – what contracts exist have never been seen so even while I would argue, along with you and other’s that there must be plans, unless they share them or we see the results on the ground, we are left report on what we see and hear. Which as far as clean up or ongoing work is zero information . . .

    Thanks you for the comments. You are correct there must be something in the contracts but we have not been able to read the details. Finally, I remain skeptical. My past experience with matters like this in Indian Country have lead me to believe that the boom and bust cycle is as visible on the reservation as it is off . . . meaning, people make decisions based on costs.

    If it costs less to leave the mess, they leave the mess, if on the other hand it’s cheaper to clean it up and move on that is the course they will take regardless of contract obligations. As you know, contracts are made to be broken and when your dealing with huge amounts of money and a relatively modest opponent, the scale most often tips toward the money . . . I hope I’m wrong for the sake of my daughter and hers . . .

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