After 32 years, 76-year-old energy exec still waiting on the feds

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When Sidney Longwell submitted an application for a permit to drill on federal land in northwest Montana in 1983, Ronald Reagan was in his first term in office, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” was at the top of the pop charts and John Elway was a rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Now, 32 years later, Longwell is 76, living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and still waiting for the federal government to make a decision.

Longwell wants to explore for minerals on the 6,247 acres he acquired through a lease with the Bureau of Land Management so many years ago.

“We have a valid permit, and our client has the right to go and drill,” said Longwell’s attorney, William Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation.

What’s the hold up?

“There have been other litigations, there has been need for analysis … and that has taken time,” said Dave Cunningham, public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service in Great Falls, Montana. “The chronology, I think, is very long.”

“They just want us to go away,” Pendley told “I just think the bureaucrats wanted to avoid making a decision. So they’ve just fooled around and fooled around and had meeting after meeting.”

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