A federally recognized Native American tribe is demanding President Joe Biden’s administration immediately rescind or amend a new policy that temporarily suspends new oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits on federal land.
What are the details?
The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, which is located in Utah, blasted acting U.S. Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega for issuing the two-month moratorium, claiming the order violates the tribe’s sovereignty.
The Biden administration’s action is particularly personal for the Ute Indian Tribe because they produce a significant amount of oil.
The tribe produces about 45,000 barrels of crude oil per day in the Uintah basin, along with about 900 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, according to a document it filed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2017.
“The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation respectfully requests that you immediately amend Order No. 3395 to provide an exception for energy permits and approvals on Indian lands. The Ute Indian Tribe and other energy producing tribes rely on energy development to fund our governments and provide services to our members,” Luke Duncan, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee in Utah, wrote in a letter to de la Vega
The letter continued, “Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination. Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any action on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation.”
“Order No. 3395 violates the United States treaty and trust responsibilities to the Ute Indian Tribe and violates important principles of tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Your order was also issued in violation (of) our government-to-government relationship. Executive Order No. 13175 on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, and Interior’s own Policy on Consultation with Tribal Governments,” the letter added.
“The order must be withdrawn or amended to comply with Federal law and policies. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward from hearing from you,” Duncan concluded.
The Ute Indian Tribe does not mince words in their response to Interior’s order restricting federal energy development:
“Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination.” pic.twitter.com/U5MiZCMx4n
— Megan Barnett Bloomgren (@MeganBloomgren) January 22, 2021
The Interior Department defended the order, explaining on Thursday that it “does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases.”