I recently learned that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be speaking in Bismarck at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference May 23rd. I, along with my fellow members of Fort Berthold Protectors of Our Earth Rights, see Zinke's visit as an opportunity to invite the secretary to come visit Fort Berthold and see firsthand the impacts from oil and gas air pollution on our air.
I attended the Department of Health's hearing for a minor source synthetic air quality permit for Davis Refinery Jan. 17 in Dickinson, N.D. I was one of many people who oppose the fact that Meridian has the audacity to want to site a refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I can speak from experience; my community is impacted by oil and gas. I've seen every tactic that companies use when they want to develop an area. I've seen the devastation that a refinery can bring to communities and can see the inevitable desecration that will be brought to our only National Park.
The Trump administration budget proposal is detrimental for all Americans. Furthermore, the budget jeopardizes the future of Native American people and tribes. The federal government has often failed to uphold the its responsibility to protect Native people, though our people have followed the route of assimilation at the behest of the U.S. government.
Fort Berthold POWER, located on the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations, supports Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in her decision to not overturn the BLM methane rule. Had the rule been repealed, the opportunity to reduce methane reductions on tribal and federal lands would have been eliminated forever.
Living in Mandaree, we witness the first-hand impacts of oil and gas extraction. At night, we can see across the prairie that's lit up by dozens of flares. We know that our air quality is being jeopardized. We see the smog of ozone and other toxins hovering over our towns and homes. Following years of public input and support from tribal members like myself, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized protections that cut natural gas flaring, venting, and leaks on tribal and federal oil and gas leaseholds.
In November 2016, the Bureau of Land Management finalized the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule to replace outdated regulations that reduce flaring, venting and unnecessary leaking of methane and other harmful pollutants into the air on public and tribal lands. Every year the oil and gas industry releases millions of tons of methane into the air. Between 2009 and 2014, oil and gas producers on public and tribal lands vented, flared, and leaked about 375 billion cubic feet of natural gas. That's enough to supply over 5 million homes for one year.
According to the headlines this past week Trump's agenda on environment: End of EPA. End of Federal Clean Energy. End of Paris Climate deal. More drilling, more coal, more pipelines, more wildlife bull dozed and more lives destroyed. Also, according to Sierra Club Trumps agenda for his first 100 days is just as terrifying as his potential cabinet picks. Near the top: putting Keystone XL in motion; canceling payments to UN climate change programs; lifting restrictions on dirty coal and oil production.