Chairman Alvin Not Afraid, Jr. of the Crow Tribe. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Crow Tribe pushes Trump administration to revive contested coal export project

The Crow Tribe is hoping the Trump administration lives up to promises to revive the slumping coal industry.

A big part of the effort is an export terminal on the West Coast. The tribe is hoping its coal can be shipped to markets in Asia because prices in America have fallen dramatically, affecting services and employment on the reservation.

“I don’t want to be that poor again that I will live on deer meat,” Kenneth Brien, the tribe's director of energy development, told Reuters.

But one proposed terminal was highly controversial because it would have been located on tribal treaty fishing grounds in Washington. That's what led the Obama administration to halt the permitting process back in May 2016..

Project developers withdrew plans at the state level in February, The Bellingham Herald reported. But it's possible it could be revived and the tribe is lobbying the Trump team to approve some sort of terminal, Reuters reported.

If that happens, the tribe will have an ally in Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leader of the Department of the Interior. He has repeatedly brought up the issue since joining the administration earlier this year.

"You can take it from the Crow Nation in Montana," Zinke told reporters at a White House briefing in April. "The chairman once said, a war on coal is a war on Crow Nation, and coal jobs are the only jobs."

The tribe is also lobbying the administration to support a permanent tax credit on coal production in Indian Country, Reuters reported. Zinke introduced legislation to do that when served in the U.S. Congress.

Earlier this month, Zinke repealed a coal production rule that was finalized during the Obama administration. The tribe supported the effort.

Read More on the Story:
In Montana’s Indian country, tribes take opposite sides on coal (Reuters August 21, 2017)

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