Biden’s climate agenda is creating energy poverty in tribal nations

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The White House is hosting its Tribal Nations Summit this week, and it’s important to note that the administration’s climate policy is bankrupting the tribes it claims to be helping.

The president is sure to promise, as he has done at previous summits, that his administration will “defend tribal sovereignty, self-governance, and self-determination and support tribal economies.” Unfortunately, the administration’s policies are doing the opposite. Specifically, the administration’s energy policy is crushing our nation’s tribes by robbing them of reliable jobs and much-needed income—all to please the climate lobby.

Unsurprisingly, the president’s decisions plunged most of the country’s Native Americans deeper into poverty and made them more dependent on the federal government. Energy development on tribal lands not only helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy sources but also provides significant income to tribes by creating jobs and making them less dependent on federal handouts. But under this administration, many tribes are deprived of these win-win benefits.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recently canceled existing oil and gas leases in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and set aside more than 13 million acres that were previously available for energy exploration. He did this without proper consultation with the local Indigenous communities, and then Congress passed a law authorizing the leases.

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The effects are staggering. Oil and gas production on tribal lands has declined significantly over the past two years. The Interior Department also cut future production by 60% by cutting drilling permits on tribal lands. It will harm the tribes in our country.

In testimony before Congress, Nagruk Harcharek, president of the Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, shared the frustration of his community, saying, “If Washington acts in the Arctic, our people are an afterthought.” He added that the Interior’s action “was done without consulting our people.”

The Navajo Nation experienced a similar economic impact from the administration’s misguided policies. This summer, Haaland completed the withdrawal of oil and natural gas leases surrounding New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This action alone prevented 5,600 members of the Navajo Nation from developing the oil and natural gas they rightfully and legally own, depriving them of nearly $200 million over 20 years.

In this impoverished area, oil and natural gas royalties help put food on the table. Many Navajo live in small trailers, some without running water or electricity. The median income is $20,000 a year, and for many, oil and natural gas royalties bring in an additional $28,000 a year.

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Tribal coal production is also under threat, including in Montana, where the Biden administration has delayed required permits and threatened coal mine operations across the state, including those owned by tribal entities. . Coal supports tribal entities like those on the Crow Reservation. In fact, during Biden’s first two years in office, royalties for the tribe’s coal production were cut in half compared to the previous two administrations. Biden’s support for banning coal leasing on federal lands and attacking coal-fired power will further perpetuate the cycle of dependency and poverty for the tribes he promised to empower with sovereignty and decision-making. in and of themselves.

Tribal coal production is also under threat, including in Montana, where the Biden administration has delayed required permits and threatened coal mine operations across the state, including those owned by tribal entities. . Coal supports tribal entities like those on the Crow Reservation. In fact, during Biden’s first two years in office, royalties for the tribe’s coal production were cut in half compared to the previous two administrations. Biden’s support for banning coal leasing on federal lands and attacking coal-fired power will further perpetuate the cycle of dependency and poverty for the tribes he promised to empower with sovereignty and decision-making. in and of themselves.

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Instead of creating jobs, improving financial well-being, and encouraging energy independence, the Biden administration is more interested in giving billions of federal dollars to tribes. Over the past two years, Interior has distributed $1.9 billion in mostly one-off projects on tribal lands that have failed to provide a sustainable source of income. Funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the signature piece of “Bidenomics,” contributed to the inflation that already affects those who can least afford it.

The Biden administration has been quick to declare that it is helping historically marginalized communities. However, the evidence shows an aggressive effort to stop energy development that would enable the tribes to pursue the prosperous future they deserve. Unfortunately, tribes across the country are once again experiencing hardships stemming from popular rhetoric and extreme policies pushed by an overstretched federal government.

US Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana; and Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance. This column first appeared in the Washington Examiner.