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Biden’s climate agenda creates energy poverty in tribal nations

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U.S. SENATE — The White House is hosting its Tribal Nations Summit this week, and it’s important to note that the administration’s climate policy is bankrupting the tribes it claims to help.

The president is sure to promise, as he has at previous summits, that his administration “will defend tribal sovereignty, self-government, and self-determination and will support tribal economies.” Unfortunately, the administration’s policies do the opposite. Specifically, the administration’s energy policy is crushing our nation’s tribes by robbing them of reliable jobs and much-needed revenue - all to please the climate lobby.

Not surprisingly, the president’s decisions are plunging many of the country’s Native Americans deeper into poverty and making them more dependent on the federal government. Energy development on tribal lands not only helps decrease America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy but also provides vital income to tribes by creating jobs and making them less dependent on federal handouts. But under this administration, many tribes are being denied these win-win benefits.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recently canceled existing oil and gas leases in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and set aside more than 13 million acres that were previously available for energy exploration. She did so without proper consultation with local Native communities and after Congress passed a law authorizing the leases.

The repercussions are jarring. Oil and gas production on tribal lands dropped substantially over the past two years. The Interior Department is also cutting back on future production by cutting drilling permits on tribal lands by 60%. This is devastating for our nation’s tribes.

Tribal production of coal is also under threat, including in Montana, where the Biden administration is delaying much-needed permits and threatening the operations of coal mines throughout the state, including those owned by tribal entities. Coal supports tribal entities such as those on the Crow Reservation. In fact, during Biden’s first two years in office, royalties for tribal coal production were cut in half compared to the previous two administrations. Biden’s support for a ban on coal leasing on federal land and attacks on coal-generated power will further perpetuate the cycle of dependency and poverty for the tribes he promised to empower with sovereignty and self-determination.

Instead of creating jobs, boosting financial well-being, and encouraging energy independence, the Biden administration is more interested in doling out billions in federal dollars to tribes. Over the past two years, Interior distributed $1.9 billion on mostly one-off projects on tribal lands that fail to provide sustainable sources of income. The funds come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the signature piece of “Bidenomics” that has contributed to inflation that already affects those who can least afford it.

The Biden administration is quick to proclaim it is helping historically marginalized communities. Yet, the evidence shows an aggressive effort to stop energy development that enables tribes to pursue the prosperous future they deserve. Regrettably, tribes across the country are once again experiencing the hardships that come from popular rhetoric and extreme policies being pushed by an overreaching federal government.



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