Native Sun News Today: Tribal activists protest rollback of environmental regulations

Response team views aftermath of toxic fracking fluid leak at Mandaree, North Dakota, on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. Photo courtesy MHA Nation

Ft. Berthold group protests rollback of Environmental Protection Agency protections
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

NEW TOWN, N.D. –– A grassroots organization on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation has put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on notice that deregulation of environmental protections is unacceptable from the viewpoint of social justice.

The organization, Ft. Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, or POWER, delivered a letter to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council that joins more than 14,600 other written remarks in a nationwide public comment period ending May 15.

“We strongly oppose reducing environmental safeguards that were put in place to protect people who are overburdened by the continuous onslaught of energy extraction. Most of our members are directly impacted by the over-extraction of our natural resources on Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation,” POWER said.

The Bakken Formation is centered on the reservation, home to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, or MHA Nation, which has experienced degradation of fracking for oil during a boom-and-bust cycle resulting from ongoing fossil fuel promotion. POWER submitted its comments at a public comment meeting in Minnesota, pursuant to Executive Order 13777, which opened a process for rolling back environmental regulations. A landslide of responses overwhelmingly opposes the rollback.

“There is no justification for deregulation,” says the POWER comment letter, signed by MHA enrolled member Lisa DeVille, the organization’s president.

“The rules are needed to reduce ground-level ozone (smog), water pollution, mining-related pollution, illegal dumping of energy extraction by-products, and other impacts,” it says, adding that regulations “over the previous decades have led to measurable improvements in public health and environmental quality.”

It continues: “Companies that invade our lands both off and on reservations are not here to create jobs for the local people; their job is to make money at the lowest cost of operation possible.”

Life and health “should not be a bargaining point in the law-making or repeal process,” it says. “The environmental destruction will fall on our children and grandchildren for generations to come. Do not repeal regulations that protect land, air, and water,” it concludes.

Randomly reviewed samples of remarks from anonymous submitters throughout the comment period reflect similar advice:
One stated: “Opposition to regulation in general, and environmental regulations specifically, directly threatens the health of Americans by undermining protection of the commons, the air and water we all share on which our health depends.

“The sweeping revenge against regulations being taken by a minority of Americans, principally corporations or individuals negatively impacted by those regulations, does not reflect what the majority of Americans desire.

“Only about 20 percent of Americans elected this President. The vast majority must also be served by what the federal government does, and they are clearly not served by eliminating or scaling back enforcement of any rule designed to protect public health and safety.”

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Ft. Berthold group protests rollback of Environmental Protection Agency protections

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