Political Issues on the Crow Reservation from Coalbed Methane

This page was written by Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education. Funding was provided in part by the Montana Office of Public Instruction .

Eight Crow prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana. Details

Having only been developed as a resource for about 25 years, the development of coalbed methane is fairly new. Hence, the long term impacts are not yet known. If policies will in fact be needed to monitor and moderate coalbed methane development, they have only begun to be determined.

As seen in 2002, a two year legal challenge by conservation groups and Wyoming ranchers was ended. The Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled that coalbed methane leases were illegal because they were issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) without proper analysis of coalbed methane's unique impacts. Ruling in favor of the two conservation groups, the Board of Land Appeals held that coalbed methane leases are invalid and illegal when the leasing is "based on existing environmental analyses which either did not contain any discussion of the unique potential impacts associated with coalbed methane extraction and development or failed to consider reasonable alternatives relevant to a pre-leasing environmental analysis (Wyoming Coalbed Methane Leases Ruled Illegal (more info) )." Click here ( This site may be offline. ) to view the 2003 Final Statewide Oil and Gas Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Amendment of the Powder River and Billings RMPs.

Crow women in traditional Elk tooth dresses, one sitting and holding a baby.
Crow women in traditional Elk tooth dresses, one sitting and holding a baby. Details

To further investigate the policies of the Crow Reservation, follow the links below:

Policy Resources on the Crow Reservation

Resources containing information about policies on the Crow Reservation.


To further investigate policy issues related to the Crow Reservation from coalbed methane development, follow the links below:

Policy Resources about Coalbed Methane on the Crow Reservation

Resources containing information about policies on coalbed methane on the Crow Reservation.



For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.