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Tribes oppose authorization of year-round drilling in Converse County

 Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management (KTUU)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 9:09 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Leaders of several tribal nations say a Trump administration decision to permit five oil companies drilling rights in Wyoming will destroy cultural resources, compromise air and water quality and violate existing treaty rights.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe says U.S. regulators failed to uphold federal law and fairly consult local tribes when they made their decision, a letter written by Stephanie Connolly, the BLM Authorizing Officer responsible for preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) said.

The tribe also said the environmental reviews that occurred in conjunction with the project were deficient.

The tribe also said the BLM failed to address their submitted comments, withheld their meeting notes, and speculated on Sioux tribal origin and migration theory, among other issues. The Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance, a nonprofit comprised of four tribes – Standing Rock Sioux, Oglala Lakota Sioux, Rosebud Sioux, and Flandreau Sioux, identified adverse impacts to the treaty rights of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and other treaty tribes in March, additionally.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued an order on Dec. 23 to allow for year-round drilling on federal leases in Converse County. The Converse County Oil and Gas Project allows for the development of up to 5,000 new oil and natural gas wells inside a 1.5 million-acre project area. This project is expected to generate roughly 8,000 jobs and $18 to $28 billion in federal revenues.

The order followed the completion of a seven-year environmental analysis.

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