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Terry Anderson: Donald Trump can grant energy 'freedom' to Indian Country

Filed Under: Cobell Lawsuit and Settlement | Opinion
More on: donald trump, energy, republicans, terry anderson
     
   

The Crow Tribe has partnered with Cloud Peak Energy to develop a mine on its reservation Montana. Photo from Big Metal Coal

What will Republican Donald Trump do for Indian Country once he's in the White House? Terry L. Anderson believes the 45th president can help tribes with energy development:
President-elect Trump is well positioned to grant more freedom to Native Americans. Just prior to the election, the newly formed Native American Coalition made up of members of tribal organizations from 15 states endorsed candidate Trump. That endorsement opens the door for a new relationship between tribes and the federal government.

Chairman of the Native American Coalition, Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma and a member of the Cherokee Nation) captured the nature of federal control over Indian Country and path to reducing that control: “The daily flood of new federal regulations keep[s] Indian Country from becoming self-sufficient. Local tribal decisions, not federal bureaucrats, are the best way to improve our communities… I will stand with Donald Trump in supporting tribal sovereignty and reining in federal over-regulation.”

Considering the fact that tribes have an estimated $1.5 trillion in energy resources, President Trump should start by promoting more tribal authority over those resources. Congress tried to help with legislation in 2005 giving tribes authority to lease energy resources without approval from the Department of the Interior, but tribes did not take advantage of the legislation calling the process too complicated and confusing. More recently, both houses have passed bills (S 209 and H.R. 538) trying to simplify the permitting process.

Such legislation is helping tribes like the coal-rich Crow. In 2013 it signed an option with Cloud Peak Energy, LLC to lease 1.4 billion tons of reservation coal. For the option, Cloud Peak paid the tribe $3.75 million and payments could increase to $10 million by 2018 if they start mining.

Read More on the Story:
Terry L. Anderson: Presidential Medal Of Freedom Should Come With Freedom For American Indians (Forbes 11/22)

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