Interpretation Restrictions must legally mandate a decrease in the quantity produced – regulations are distinct

Deregulating TERAs allows corporate exploitation of tribes—worse for sovereignty

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Deregulating TERAs allows corporate exploitation of tribes—worse for sovereignty

April Reese 3, reporter – High Country News (Colorado) and Energy & Environment, “Plains tribe harnesses the wind,”

The legislation would also waive Interior’s trust responsibility to the tribes in energy dealings. This trust relationship means the federal government must ensure that tribes get a fair shake when their land is leased for mining, grazing, logging or drilling. In recent years, Indians have sued the Interior Department, accusing the agency of mismanaging billions of dollars it collected from those leases (HCN, 5/12/03: Missing Indian money: Piles or pennies?). But some tribal leaders and environmental groups say there aren’t enough financial and human resources in Indian Country to ensure that tribal energy resources are developed in an environmentally responsible way. They fear that the legislation, dubbed the “Native American Energy Development and Self-Determination Act” before being rolled into a larger, catchall Senate energy bill, would leave tribes vulnerable to exploitation by energy companies. Historically, when tribes have tried to assert their authority over corporations, “they’re challenged at every turn,” says David Getches, a professor of natural resource law at the University of Colorado and one of the founders of the Native American Rights Fund. “When you’re talking about things like power plants, where there are millions of dollars involved, you will see some of the most vigorous challenges ever to tribal sovereignty.” “I think a better name for this legislation would be the ‘Native American Self-Termination Act’,” says Robert Shimek, special projects director for the Indigenous Environmental Network and a member of the Chippewa Tribe. “The way it’s proposed, it reopens the door for dirty projects — projects that nobody else wants.” Shimek is wary of a return to the days when the federal government endorsed projects like the Black Mesa coal mine on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona. In the 1960s, the Peabody Coal Company strip-mined 17,000 acres of tribal lands, and the still-active operation has been blamed for depleting the aquifer and drying up the Hopi Tribe’s sacred springs. “(Tribal lands) were essentially energy colonies for the rest of the country,” says Lester. When the Senate resumes debate on the energy bill this summer, Campbell is expected to offer an amendment addressing some of critics’ concerns, including retaining Interior’s trust responsibility and laying out requirements that tribes would have to follow when conducting environmental reviews.

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The 50 states, Washington D.C., and relevant territories should actively involve affected tribal communities in energy policy decision-making and defer to the tribe’s position to the maximum extent possible.

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“Sovereignty” is rooted in Westernized conceptions of power relations—as such, focusing the goal of Native politics on sovereignty is problematic when implemented in the framework of the state because it becomes a tool designed for the subjugation of Native peoples. Things like ‘alternative energy incentives’ simply loosen the leash while maintaining the falsehoods of current power relations

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