ND Indian Reservation Questioning Obama Administration’s Power To Regulate Fracking On Their Land
Thanks to heavy-handed regulation, there has been a decline in oil production from federally-regulated lands and areas in the United States despite an overall increase in domestic oil production since President Obama took office.
With the administration promising more federal regulations on fracking, one Indian reservation here in North Dakota is questioning the federal governemnt’s authority to regulate the technique on their land (and one would presume, by extension, the authority of the federal government to regulate oil production on reservations in general).
The chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes questions whether the Bureau of Land Management has authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on Indian reservations.
“I can find no authority for the Bureau of Land Management to regulate activities on Indian lands, including hydraulic fracturing,” Tex Hall told members of the House Natural Resource Committee’s Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs at an oversight hearing in Washington, D.C., Thursday. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is chairman of the subcommittee.
“Although the BLM has jurisdiction to regulate activities on ‘public lands,’ Indian lands are not public lands,” Hall said. “Indian reservations are set aside and reserved for the exclusive use and benefit of Indian tribes. Neither the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 nor the Department of Interior’s Departmental Manual provide BLM with direct or delegated authority over Indian lands.”
The BLM is proposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, used in oil and gas development.
This is a sort of microcosm of the battle between the states and the federal government over environmental policy. These Native Americans represented by Hall – the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people of the Forth Berthold Reservation – think they know what’s best for their land. They live there. They benefit the most from economic activity there. They feel that they can decide for themselves what sort of production techniques can be allowed and what can’t.
This is how the state governments feel as well on issues such as the EPA’s regional haze regulations, etc., etc. It’s their land. They live there. Nobody has more interest in striking an appropriate balance between industry/commerce and prudent regulatory protections than they do. Historically, the reservations in North Dakota have been epicenters of poverty. It’s not hard to imagine why they wouldn’t want to see industry, and the jobs that come with it, regulated away.
Though, on a related note, it’s worth noting that the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation has gone ahead and banned fracking on their own. I don’t think the feds will question their authority to do that, but the Forth Berthold people should have the same authority.Tags: fort berthold reservation, fracking, North Dakota News, oil, tex hall