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Indian Tribe has regrets after Biden halts drilling permits: ‘Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty …’

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President Joe Biden issued a number of executive orders last week that will almost certainly have a negative effect on the economy, decisions that are already drawing feelings of buyer’s remorse.

Chief among the actions taken was revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to carry Canadian crude to the U.S., and issuing a 60-day moratorium on the leasing of fossil energy resources and new permits for drilling and mining on public lands.


And while environmental groups praised the orders, the latter moves drew the ire of the Ute Indian Tribe, which has run an oil-and-gas operation on its 4.5 million-acre reservation for more than 70 years, according to the Washington Times.

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega, Luke Duncan, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee, characterized the decision as an “attack” on their sovereignty.

“Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination,” Duncan wrote. “Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any action on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation. ”

Ute tribal leaders are demanding that Biden amend the order to exempt tribal lands.

“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,” Duncan wrote in the letter. “The Ute Indian Tribe and other energy producing tribes rely on energy development to fund our governments and provide services to our members.”

Ironically, the Ute Tribe website drew attention last month to an article shared in the Ute Bulletin about tribal leaders being “optimistic” about Biden because of his “track record with Indian Country.”

“I was a tribal leader during the … Obama-Biden administration and we had the key to the White House, we had a seat at the table,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in the article. “Based on that, I see that same approach being done this time.”

Biden’s moratorium is also causing great concern in New Mexico, which voted for the Democrat by better than 10 points over former President Donald Trump.

Half of the state’s oil production happens on federal land, and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties each year, according to the Associate Press.

“During his inauguration, President Biden spoke about bringing our nation together. Eliminating drilling on public lands will cost thousands of New Mexicans their jobs and destroy what’s left of our state’s economy,” Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway told the AP. “How does that bring us together? Environmental efforts should be fair and well-researched, not knee-jerk mandates that just hurt an already impoverished state.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, called the new administration’s actions an “assault on American energy independence.”

“An all-out assault on American energy independence appears to be the top priority of the Biden Administration,” Crenshaw said, according to the Times. “From rejoining Paris to canceling Keystone and now this ban on drilling on federal land, it’s clear the campaign trail rhetoric of banning oil and gas is turning into actual policy in the Biden-Harris White House.”

On a positive note, Biden didn’t share any mean tweets…  here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

Tom Tillison

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