“Resource tribes depend on the development of their resources to create better tomorrows for our children. It was basically a mandate in Indian policy to establish and develop our resources.”
Native American tribes dependent on fossil fuel resources rip Biden admin for double standard
Native American tribes that rely on fossil fuel production across the nation reiterated their demand that the Biden administration allow them to develop the resources on their lands.
Tribal leaders and energy experts contacted by Fox News Digital criticized efforts to restrict oil, gas and coal production even as those resources sustain thousands of Native Americans’s way of life. The Department of the Interior has repeatedly expressed support for boosting tribal sovereignty for Indigenous tribes, but has also pursued a climate agenda limiting fossil fuel production on federal lands and waters.
“Air, water and energy are so foundational to our economy. I believe in the right that all property owners have to develop what belongs to them in any way that they want,” Daniel Cardenas, the chairman of the National Tribal Energy Association and a member of the Pit River Tribe, told Fox News Digital in an interview.
Roughly 20% of the nation’s total oil and natural gas reserves, 30% of domestic coal reserves west of the Mississippi River and additional natural minerals — altogether worth about $1.5 trillion — are on Native American lands, according to a 2014 study from think tank Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).
However, about 86% of Indigenous land with energy and mineral resource potential remain undeveloped and just 3% of domestic oil production comes from tribal land.
“Resource tribes depend on the development of their resources to create better tomorrows for our children,” Conrad Stewart, the director of energy and water for the Crow Nation of Montana, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “It was basically a mandate in Indian policy to establish and develop our resources.”
The Crow Nation’s coal and resource assets are worth an estimated $27 billion, likely making it among the largest coal owners worldwide, according to PERC. Still, the tribe’s unemployment rate is far higher than the national average and its annual return on coal is less than 1%.
But last year, the Biden administration let the Department of Energy National Coal Council charter lapse, effectively ending the 40-year-old coal production advisory panel which Stewart had served on. The administration has also pursued emissions standards and restrictions targeting the coal industry which tribes like the Crow Nation are dependent on.
In addition, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation, Osage Nation, Southern Ute Tribe and Navajo Nation are among several tribes nationwide that actively rely on oil and gas revenues to meet their budgets.