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Today’s blacklisted American finally wins his four-decade-long fight against the federal government

So Kafkaesque even Kafka would be astonished
So Kafkaesque even Kafka would be astonished

Bring a gun to a knife fight: In 1982 Sidney Longwell bought a federal oil and gas lease from the Interior Department, with the intention of making money from the oil he extracted from Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest. Such leases were not unusual up until then, and in this case was obtained in a perfectly legal manner.

It was not to be, at least for the next four decades, as the Interior Department under five different Presidents repeatedly changed the rules and made arbitary decisions in an effort to somehow illegally cancel that lease. The story, as described by his non-profit law firm, Mountain States Legal Foundation, is quite ugly.

Sidney Longwell first bought his federal oil and gas lease in 1982. But after years of back-and-forth, the Clinton Administration suspended his lease indefinitely in 1993, placing it in regulatory limbo. A decade of fruitless bureaucratic review followed. Finally, in 2013, and with help from Mountain States Legal Foundation, he took the DOI to court, where the agency was forced to address Sidney’s lease. When pressed in 2016 for a decision, the DOI canceled the lease! So, Mountain States and Sidney sued them again.

Last fall, the court again ordered the reinstatement of Sidney’s lease and permit! As the court wrote, “It is time to put an end to this interminable, and insufferable, bureaucratic chess match.” We couldn’t agree more.

In the ensuing months, the DOI and its activist allies appealed the court’s ruling.

On September 9, 2023, Sidney Longwell’s fight was finally won when the DOI and the environmental groups agreed to settle, though Longwell himself is no longer alive to enjoy that victory, having passed away in 2020 at the age of 81. Both his company Solenex and his law firm had refused to give up, however, and in winning this victory did so in a way that included a significant financial settlement, some of which will be paid by the enviromental activists who helped iinstigate and extend the case.

The federal government and its allies who intervened in the case have signed settlement agreements that uphold Sidney Longwell’s hard-fought victories. And they have agreed to pay Solenex $2.62 million to resolve the case, with the federal government supplying $2 million, and the intervening activists supplying the other $624,700.

What makes this victory important is the settlement amount. Often in cases like this the non-profit law firm only wishes to make a legal point, and though it almost always win it frequently only asks for a symbolic small settlement, after the plainiff pays legal costs.

The non-profit law firm here, Mountain State Legal Foundation, did not do this. Instead, it fought and got a sizeable monetary payment. Such payments will hopefully make both the federal government and the environmental groups think twice before subjecting other innocent Americans to new and similar torturous legal battles.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Gregory English

    I hope you are right about them thinking twice but I highly doubt it. Liberal progressives never learn and never stop.
    The lie, the agenda, and the deception are the poin, not the environment or the truth

  • Jeff Wright

    Time for the Department of the Interior to die.

  • Col Beausabre

    $624K. They won’t be out a penny. Soros will write ’em a check

  • Cotour

    American / Western law and how it is structured: In the Objective.

    The government and how it and those who populate it operate: In the Subjective.

    The only resulting condition if the government is allowed to run rough shod over the people is authoritarianism.

    And it took this man, now dead, 40 years to drag the government back to the Objective.

    The problem here? The government is essentially eternal just like a corporate entity and in time will outlast all and will with certainty drag everyone into authoritarianism. It can do nothing else.

    And the only thing that by design that can at least slowdown that eternal process is people like the man who won his fight but who is now dead.

    Now that is a sad, frustrating and ironic situation we find ourselves presented with.

    And still the political warfare battle rages, why?

    Because we can do nothing else. It is either that or bow down and surrender.

    How do we fight political warfare in America?

    Lawyers, Courts and Money.

  • BLSinSC

    Unfortunately this does not “cost” the Government anything! WE the TAXPAYERS are footing the bills for the obstruction, litigations, and settlements! The small portion for the activists will be paid from their TAX FREE DONATIONS so once again, the TAXPAYERS lose, indirectly!

    NO, we need a new LAW that states “If the LAW is VIOLATED to infringe on individual rights then the PEOPLE making the DECISIONS are to be held PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE AND LIABLE for DAMAGES”!!

  • waepnedmann

    This is the strategy of the “Progressives”: pass a law that is obviously unconstitutional. When challenged in courts and deemed unconstitutional file an appeal. Lather rinse repeat.
    Ten years (or forty years in this case) and ten million dollars in attorney fees they lose the final appeal.
    Sometimes hey ignore the courts and do not comply.
    Or, they just pass another law resulting in the same effect of the first law.
    Lather rinse repeat. Ten years and ten million dollars later…

    The tactics of the Progressives are that while their strategies are being played out in the courts their minions engage in violent activities to inflame the emotions.

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