Plan causes "fossil fuel colonialism" – becomes an "in" for big business exploitation.
Awehali ’6 (Brian Awehali is an award-winning journalist and former Britannica.com editor. "Awehali," one of several (anglicized) Cherokee spellings for "eagle," and is drawn from the name his great-great-grandmother gave him. It was one of several names he adopted for his public life. His is a tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Ani-tsiskwa (bird clan). His journalism has centered on Native American issues – most notably editing Tipping the Sacred Cow (AK Press, 2007), an anthology including contributions from Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, Michael Eric Dyson, Timothy Kreider and Christopher Hitchens. He founded the magazine, LiP: Informed Revolt and is the 2006 Project Censored Award winner. His work has been published in dozens of print and online publications, including The Guardian, Z magazine/ZNet, Counterpunch, The Progressive, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Black World Today, Earth Island Journal, and the 2006 and 2007 volumes of Censored: The Top 25 Censored Stories (Seven Stories Press).¶ "NATIVE ENERGY FUTURES: Renewable Energy %26 the New Rush on Indian Lands" – Loud Canary – 6/05/06 – http://loudcanary.com/tag/energy/)
Now imagine, if you can, that you run a US-based energy company at a time when increasing resistance to US imperialism, coupled with rising business costs related to political instability, has made getting the oil, coal, and gas from foreign sources more difficult. Imagine that you’re savvy enough to know that your fossil fuel-based business model is about to get dramatically less lucrative. If you didn’t already have them, you’d probably want to start setting up operations in the more business-friendly, less regulated Wild West of Indian Country. If you were really devious—or maybe just smart—you might want to have your cake and eat it too, by getting tax subsidies and favorable terms for developing your next business model while greenwashing your ongoing fossil fuel operations. Wouldn’t you? “Consistent with the President’s National Energy Policy to secure America’s energy future,” testified Theresa Rosier, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, “increased energy development in Indian and Alaska Native communities could help the Nation have more reliable home-grown energy supplies. [The Native American Energy Development and Self-Determination Act of 2003] promotes increased and efficient energy development and production in an environmentally sound manner.” The bill did not ultimately pass, but the idea that “America’s energy future” should be linked to having “more reliable home-grown energy supplies” can be found in other native energy-specific legislation that has passed into law. What this line of thinking fails to take into consideration is that Native America is not actually USAmerica, and that the “supplies” in question belong to sovereign nations, not to the United States or its energy sector.Rosier’s statement conveys quite a lot about how the government and the energy sector intend to market the growing shift away from dependence on foreign energy, and how they plan to deregulate (by using “efficiency” as a selling point) and step up their exploitation (“development”) of “domestic” native energy resources: by spinning it as a way to produce clean energy while helping Native Americans gain greater economic and tribal sovereignty. Of course, if large companies can establish lucrative partnerships with tribes, largely free of regulation and federal oversight, then so much the better. In this regard, a look at the Alaska Native “communities” Rosier mentioned is instructive. In 1971, Alaskan tribal companies were set up by Congress with roughly $1 billion and 44 million acres of land to divide. Although the real reason for establishing these companies had to do with breaking down largely unified tribal opposition to the construction of an oil pipeline, they were pitched at the time as a way to help stimulate tribal economies and mitigate the scale of poverty on tribal lands. “Tribal companies [can] be considered small businesses even after winning billions of dollars in contracts, and there is no limit to the size of the no-bid awards they can win,” reported Michael Scherer in an excellent 2005 Mother Jones article entitled “US: Little Big Companies.” The Alaska tribal companies have, according to Scherer, “become a way for large corporations with no Native American ownership to receive no-bid contracts, an avenue for federal officials to steer work to favored companies, and a device for speeding privatization.” Evidence for this assertion abounds. From 2002 through the end of 2004, the Olgoonik Corporation, owned by the Inupiat Eskimo tribe, garnered revenues in excess of $225 million for construction work on US military bases around the world. Because of its tribal status, Olgoonik procured this work without having to bid against others for it. It then subcontracted most of the work to the infamous multinational corporation Halliburton.