Trump’s Proposal to Privatize Indian Reservations for Oil
As Dakota Celebrates, Trump Advisors Propose Privatizing Oil-Rich Indian Reservations
by Tyler Durden
Dec 5, 2016 3:00 PM
With celebrations continuing at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest (following the “Monumental victory” following the Obama administration’s decision not to grant the construction permit), it appears the Trump administration has very different ideas.
Having confirmed Trump’s support for the pipeline (not to do with his investments), Reuters reports a Trump advisory group proposes the politically explosive idea of putting oil-rich Indian reservation lands into private ownership.
As we noted last night, after months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota, among others, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today effectively shut down the project by refusing to approve the last remaining permit required to complete a segment running under Lake Oahe. Per Reuters, the permit denial was heavily celebrated by protesters in Cannon Ball, North Dakota but means that Energy Transfer Partners will have to go back to the drawing board to identify a new route for the last segment of the 1,172 mile pipeline that is largely already complete.
Which followed a communications briefing from Trump’s transition team saying that despite media reports that Trump owns a stake in Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N), the company building the pipeline…
Trump’s support of the pipeline “has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.”
“Those making such a claim are only attempting to distract from the fact that President-elect Trump has put forth serious policy proposals he plans to set in motion on Day One,” said the daily briefing note sent to campaign supporters and congressional staff.
As a reminder, Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves.
And now, as Reuters reports, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews. The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations.
The tribes have rights to use the land, but they do not own it. They can drill it and reap the profits, but only under regulations that are far more burdensome than those applied to private property.
“We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” said Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member who is co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition. “As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.”