Interior Sec: “There is No War On Coal”…Talks of Racism in MT

Aaron Flint posted on March 17, 2014 14:30 :: 1583 Views

US Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell travelled across Montana over the weekend with Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).  On day one- a visit to the Crow Indian Reservation where Jewell announced a $600-thousand plus federal grant for a hydropower project.

The tour got off to a bit of a rough start after Billings-area media showed up for the press availability and found out that Senator Tester and Secretary Jewell were already several miles down the road.  I speculated that it could have something to do with the fact that the Crow Tribe has been very outspoken in support of coal development and Senator Tester may not want the cameras there for the full remarks.  However, others speculated that it may have more to do with recent changes in the senator’s communications office.  Either way, I make the point to note that media was not present for the bulk of the meetings, and only got a few quick minutes with the Secretary.  

Nonetheless, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell directly contradicted Crow Tribal Chairman Darrin Old Coyote.  Chairman Old Coyote continues to refer to the war on coal as a war on the Crow people.  Despite the battles taking place over coal export facilities on the West Coal, new emissions regulations, efforts to block financing of overseas coal-fired power plant, and more, Sec. Jewell says “there is no war on coal.”  

Full, brief interview with Sec. Jewell:

Click to Listen

Full interview with Crow Tribal Chairman Darrin Old Coyote:       

Click to Listen

I also asked Sec. Jewell about the delays for oil and gas development on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.  She blamed the lack of funding and sequestration, even though the tribes have criticized the multiple reviews and studies being required by the BIA and other agencies.

This topic also came up during Sec. Jewell’s visit, as The Great Falls Tribune reports:  

Councilman Tom Christian said the overregulating by the BIA scares away oil companies and others that want to do business with the tribe; drilling permits sometimes take months and years to be approved by the BIA.

“You’ve denied us access to economic development, you don’t let us tax and build business here,” Christian told Jewell. “If you’re going to be sovereign, let us be sovereign. Afford us an opportunity at economic development so we can take care of our own and not depend on anyone.”

Regarding the debate over the transfer of bison to Fort Peck back in 2011, Jewell said: 

“I do sense racism in some parts of Montana and I don’t have any tolerance for that,” Jewell told the tribal council.

I see, so if farmers and ranchers (which often includes tribal members themselves) oppose the bison relocation efforts- they’re racists.  But if the BIA, Interior, and federal agencies are blocking Crow Coal and Fort Peck Reservation oil and gas development- they’re not racists? 

From The Flathead Beacon: Crown JewellInterior Secretary Sally Jewell pledges support of North Fork Bill and other conservation measures on Crown of the Continent

However, Jewell emphasized the importance of a lands protection bill like the North Fork measure and said she may seek administrative relief to temporarily implement the bill as it languishes in Congress, while Tester and Walsh pledged to continue to work toward permanent passage of the bill.

The bill already passed the US House, but is stalled in the Democratic-controlled US Senate. 

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Bozeman businessmen meet with Interior Secretary

Kevin Sloan said he brought Sitka Gear, a hunting clothing manufacturer, to Bozeman from northern California because of nearby access to public lands and the community that such access creates.

“We thought this would be a great place to attract and retain people,” Sloan said. “In northern California, our employees had very little access to huntable public lands — we had this huge hole in our business. That ended with our search for Bozeman, Montana, which has all the right pieces.”

Sloan said he had just hired a new employee this week and “Bozeman sealed the deal.”

Victoria Fregoso reports on the hydropower grant announced on the Crow Reservation:

During her first visit to Montana, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a $3.2 million grant in support of tribal energy and mineral projects.
The Crow Tribe was awarded $655,000.
The grant comes while a hydroelectric project on the Crow Reservation is about two years from completion.

Separately, David Jay reportsIndian college presidents, students meet in Billings

The student portion of the conference starts Sunday, and includes a speech from former NFL and University of Montana player Tuff Harris. Congressman Steve Daines is scheduled to speak on Monday.

Meanwhile, IndianCountryToday reports: The Democratic Party’s Indian Problem (And Guess Who’s Next?)

J. C. Kantorowicz – Great Falls

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:36 AM

I don’t understand……. With the Indian tribes, with any of us……. Why don’t they/we just say “NO!” ???

The tribes “claim” they are sovereign nations. As such, why would they need any permission to develop their resources as they see fit? It is a good thing that I am not a member of any tribe. The FIRST thing I would do is tell the BIA to go to Hell, along with the BLM, FBI and all other meddling federal agencies.

It is their land, their resources and their people crushed by the poverty brought on by 150 year old treaties with “the Great White Father” in Washington DC. The choice as I see it, is continue with the paltry handouts from back East or stand to protect your people, give them employment and a FUTURE. There is no future in handouts and government paternalism.

RACISM……The only persons I have personally seen practicing racism are those who use it as a device to silence opposition to their words and deeds. Did this foolish woman give any examples of her perception of racism in Montana? She would not, cannot give examples. Her claim of racism was strictly to move the discussion away from the Obama regimes incompetence…… And the incompetence of everyone surrounding the “Chief Racist”.

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