An aerial view of Cherry Creek, a village on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Image: Google

Environment | National | Politics

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe finds one bright spot in Trump's budget





The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has managed to find one bright spot in the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget request.

The Department of Energy will not seek funding to conduct drilling activities on treaty territory in South Dakota, Chairman Harold Frazier said on Tuesday. The tribe is worried that the project, known as the Deep Borehole Field Test, will disrupt the nearby community of Cherry Creek, a village on the reservation that's the oldest continuously inhabited site in the state.

“I am very happy at the news that the projected has not been funded. This project was yet another transgression on treaty lands and we can focus our resources on other fights," Frazier said.

The Deep Borehole Field Test would have helped Energy determine whether nuclear waste can be safely stored underground in Haakon County. Although the test was just the first step in the process, the tribe and residents, both Indian and non-Indian alike, raised concerns about environmental impacts.

"Due to changes in budget priorities, the Department of Energy does not intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test (DBFT) project and has initiated a process to effectively end the project immediately," a May 23 update reads.

According to a budget document released on Tuesday, the new administration intends to focus on nuclear waste storage initiatives at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. That site -- which has not been approved to accept waste -- remains controversial among politicians in the state and Western Shoshone tribes oppose it because it is located within their treaty territory.

"It saddens me that this decision was made on fiscal and not on moral grounds but I am sure once this project gets funded again we will face this enemy again,” Frazier said of the decision to cancel funding for the test in South Dakota.

Department of Energy Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request:
Highlights | Justification

Related Stories:
Native Sun News Today: Drilling test in treaty territory stirs concern (February 17, 2017)
Native Sun News Today: Opposition to drilling test in Lakota territory (December 20, 2016)