President Donald Trump declared an end to the so-called "war on coal" with the signing of an energy executive order on March 28, 2017. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior

Tribes with coal resources look to Trump administration for change

Only a small number of tribes engage in coal development on their lands but they are gaining a stronger voice in the new Trump administration.

The Crow Tribe, the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation depend on coal revenues to fund government programs and services. But their fortunes have fallen in recent years due to low prices, regulatory burdens and other factors.

“A lot of people are not Trump fans here. Very few. But we would be his best friends if he brought back coal,” Paul Little Light, the chief executive of the Crow Tribe, told The New York Times.

Secretary Ryan Zinke, the new leader of the Department of the Interior, worked closely with Indian Country on coal development issues when he was a member of Congress. Now he's hoping to help tribes develop their lands and resources.

“We have not been a good partner in this,” Zinke told The Times. “The amount of bureaucracy and paperwork and stalling in many ways has created great hardship on some of the poorest tribes.”

Last week, Zinke signed a series of secretarial orders that he said would advance America's energy independence. His press release promised to return coal jobs to the Crow people.

Zinke took action after President Donald Trump signed another energy-related executive order. "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal," he said at a signing ceremony with Zinke at his side.

Read More on the Story:
Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump’s Promises (The New York Times 4/1)

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