A Native American tribe has slammed the Biden administration for the suspension of oil and gas leasing on tribal lands.
The letter, addressed to Biden’s Acting Secretary of the Interior, Scott de la Vega, attacks Secretarial Order No. 3395.
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The order “temporarily suspends delegations of authority regarding leasing and permitting on federal lands, with a significantly reduced staff able to approve such items.”
Washingtonexaminer.com reports: “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,” Luke Duncan, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee in Utah, said in a letter to acting U.S. Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega.
“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,” the letter added.
De la Vega signed the secretarial order on Biden’s first day in office, which blocks the Interior Department from issuing new fossil fuel permits and leases. The Ute tribe produces roughly 45,000 barrels of crude oil and 900 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, according to documents from 2017.
“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 continued.
The Interior Department defended the order, saying it “does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases.”
“In addition, any actions necessary in the event of an incident that might pose a threat to human health, welfare, or safety will continue,” the statement added.
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