FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Senate Passes Bill Expediting Fossil Fuel Extraction on Native American Lands

Indigenous peoples’ rights nearly did not make it into the global deal signed at the United Nations COP21 climate summit in Paris, serving as one of the more controversial sticking points in the road toward the signing of the Paris Agreement. Eventually, though, the Paris Agreement came to include five mentions of the importance of protecting indigenous rights with regards to climate change.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has decided to grant indigenous people a different set of rights altogether: the right to have oil and coal extracted from their ancestral lands in a streamlined manner. The rights to do so would be granted in a bill thatpassed unanimously in the Senate two days before the Paris Agreement.

Sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015’s (S.209) passage in the Senate received no media coverage besides a press release disseminatedby Barrasso’s office and by the office of co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).

In an opinion piece published in November by Indian Country Today, Barrasso lauded the bill for “empower[ing] tribes to develop their own energy resources” and “streamlin[ing]…approvals of many energy development transactions.”

“This will help to empower—not hinder—tribal self-governance and prosperity,” reads the article. “This legislation will empower tribes to develop their own energy resources on their lands. It will also streamline certain approvals of many energy development transactions, such as business agreements, right-of-ways and leases on Indian lands.”

Follow the Money

The Senate bill’s passage came in the aftermath of a years-long lobbying effort by corporate interests, led in the forefront by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber published a letter praising the bill after it passed in the Senate and also deployed a team of lobbyists to advocate for the bill in all three quarters of 2015 and all four quarters of 2014 for the bill’s predecessor, S.2132.

“S. 209 would be an important step in furthering efforts by Congress to encourage economic development throughout Indian Country,” the letter reads. “The Chamber urges the Senate and House committees of jurisdiction to work together towards a compromise as expeditiously as practicable.”

Environmental advocacy and legal group Earthjustice lobbied against the bill.

Tester has $15,001 to $50,000 worth of coal utility giant American Electric Power’s stock holdings and both Testerand Barrasso have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry throughout their political careers.

After passing on December 11, the Senate referred S. 209 to House Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee for votes. House Natural Resources Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) — who has taken more from the oil and gas industry in campaign contributions than any other sector throughout his political career — appears eager to help pass the bill.

I am pleased the Senate has followed suit and acted on legislation to alleviate barriers that currently prevent Native Americans from harnessing resources on their own land,” Bishop said in a December 11 press release. “I look forward to working with the Senate to get a final package on the President’s desk.”

Congressional session has closed for 2015 and the White House has not yet signaled if it would veto the bill if it arrived at its desk when session begins anew in 2016.

More articles by:

Steve Horn is a freelance investigative journalist and Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog, where this piece first appeared.

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail