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1: Executive Summary

2: About Oil/Gas Leases

3: Oil & Gas Impacts

4: Bush Admin Rollbacks

5: The Spin on Drilling

6: Hotspot: Roan Plateau, CO

7: Hotspot: Otero Mesa, NM

8: Hotspot: Rocky Mtn Front, MT

9: Hotspot: Powder River Basin, WY

10: Hotspot: Book Cliffs, UT

11: Oil, Gas, Political Cash

12: EWG Recommendations

13: Methodology

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Rocky Mountain Front, Montana

"In short, a majority of Montanans feel very strongly that oil and gas development, and Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, just don't mix. The habitat is too rich, the landscape too important, to subject it to the roads, drills, pipelines, industrial equipment, chemicals, noise and human activity that come with oil and gas development."

— U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), May 1, 2003

Quick Facts: Federal Land in Rocky Mountain Front
  • Acres leased: 111,922 of 425,000 total acres in the front
  • Oil in Two Rocky Mountain Front areas could supply U.S. for: less than 20 minutes (TWS 2004)
  • Gas in Two Rocky Mountain Front areas could supply U.S. for: less than 3 days (TWS 2004)

Drilling the Rocky Mountain Front?

The Bureau of Land Management is considering a plan that would allow drilling in one of the nation's most beautiful and biologically rich areas -- an area in which federal lands contain less than a week's worth of natural gas.

The Rocky Mountain Front, the site of the proposal, features some of the most spectacular scenery and wildlife in the contiguous 48 states. It is located in northwestern Montana where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. It is part of what is known as the "Thrust Belt," where tectonic plates collided, thrusting enormous slabs of rock upward to form the Rockies. Conservationists have called the Front "the American Serengeti," evoking the African land of lions, giraffes and zebras. The Front is home to a wide array of animals including grizzly bears, elk, deer, lynx, and wolverines (Herring 2003).


Rocky Mountain Front Interactive Map

Map Note: The Rocky Mountain Front depicted in red is one of the country's most spectacular areas — 425,000 acres where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. Badger-Two Medicine Area depicts land on which the Forest Service is considering two applications for drilling. The Blind Horse Outstanding Natural Area depicts land where a Canadian company has made a proposal to drill three natural gas wells, a level of development that could grow to eleven wells (National Atlas 2003, Energy Inventory 2003, BLM Blackleaf EIS 2004, TWS RMF 2004).

An Environmental Working Group analysis of government leasing and drilling records shows that the oil and gas industry already pressures the Rocky Mountain Front — a summary of current leasing activity in the Front is shown below.