The Ute Indian Tribe, the second largest Indian reservation in the United States, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega about President Joe Biden's executive order that put a 60-day moratorium on permits relating to onshore and offshore oil and gas development. Those permits also include drilling.
According to the Tribe's Chairman, Luke Duncan, the executive order will have a harmful impact on his people. He is asking for the Department of the Interior to make an exemption to the order, allowing for permits to take place on tribal lands.
"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 actions on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation."
Duncan called on de la Vega to either completely withdraw the executive order or amend it so tribal sovereignty laws are respected.
The Ute Indian Tribe does not mince words in their response to Interior’s order restricting federal energy development:— Megan Barnett Bloomgren (@MeganBloomgren) January 22, 2021
“Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination.” pic.twitter.com/U5MiZCMx4n
Last year, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which reallocates fees from drilling on Bureau of Land Management lands to the National Parks Service and National Forest Service. The money is used for maintaining those parks and forests. According to the Colorado Sun, BLM currently has 26.3 million acres under lease to oil and gas producers.
Not having new permits threatens conservation efforts across the country.