Why the Utes Opposed Biden’s Plans to Limit Oil Drilling, by Ryan McMaken

Any group that’s trying to get out from under the thumb of the federal government should be cheered. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Within a day of the inauguration, the Biden administration issues a bevy of new executive orders designed to please a variety of the Democratic Party’s core special-interest groups. Among these was an executive order curtailing oil and gas leasing on federal and tribal lands.

But a problem quickly presented itself: many tribes earn a significant amount of income through oil and gas drilling on their lands. These operations also provide jobs for tribal members. The administration’s new orders would curtail tribal control and instead place decision-making authority over these drilling operations on a handful of federal officials.

Not surprisingly, at least one tribe reacted with alarm to these new federal limits. Reuters reports:

An oil-producing Native American tribe on Friday asked the U.S. Interior Department for an exemption from the recent temporary suspension of oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal and tribal lands, saying the move would hit its economy and sovereignty.

The pushback from the Ute Indian Tribe reflects the financial strain some communities will face from a freeze of the government’s fossil fuel leasing program. The new administration of President Joe Biden announced the move this week as part of a raft of measures intended to combat global climate change.

In a letter from the Ute Indian Tribe in Utah (i.e., the Uintah and Ouray Reservation), the head of the tribe’s business committee demanded the federal government exclude tribes from the new orders:

The Ute Indian Tribe and other energy producing tribes rely on energy development to fund our governments and provide services to our members….Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination. Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any actions on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation.

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