Case Update: MSLF Defends Small Business Victory in DC

In 1982, MSLF client Sidney Longwell purchased a federal oil and gas lease in order to drill in Montana. His company, Solenex, spent years investing, doing all the government agencies asked, to ensure it was environmentally safe and would not harm Native American cultural sites. 

Thirty-seven years later, Longwell is the only lease-holder still fighting for rights to drill in that area. The rest surrendered. In January, MSLF attorney David McDonald argued before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for Solenex. Federal agencies refused to accept MSLF’s 2018 District Court victory. In that ruling, Judge Richard J. Leon criticized the agencies “unreasonable” delay, calling it “Kafkaesque.” 

Kelly Longwell, MSLF attorney David McDonald and Sonny Cranch in D.C. following the most recent hearing for Solenex, LLC v. Bernhardt

Although Sidney could not be present due to poor health, his daughter Kelly Longwell and business partner Sonny Cranch attended. 

“We have a drill site and approved permit. It’s just beyond Sidney’s and all of our understanding. Why should this be denied?” said Sonny.

Kelly and Sonny said Sidney will keep fighting for the right to use his mineral lease and petitioning the government to do the right thing. 

“We are still of the opinion that we’ll be able to drill at some point,” said Kelly Longwell. 

MSLF awaits the Circuit Court ruling in the case, Solenex, LLC v. Bernhardt, prepared to celebrate or continue fighting for Sidney as long as it takes.

Kelly Longwell and Sonny Cranch talk about Sidney Longwell’s 37-year battle to use property he leased.
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Solenex, LLC v. Bernhardt

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Hunting Guide’s Killing Raises Stakes in Grizzly Case

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen issued a decision in late September invalidating the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear and returning the bear to the endangered species list—contrary to the recommendation of 20 years of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research, and the pleas of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Mountain States Legal Foundation’s clients.

Video: A 37 Year Fight to Use Leased Lands

Imagine buying a lease from the government, spending years following the rules and preparing to access leased minerals, only to have it cancelled and have to sue for your rights? Sidney Longwell doesn’t have to imagine. He’s living it.

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