On Thursday, January 21, the day after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, a Native American tribe issued a blistering letter to Biden’s Acting Secretary of the Interior, Scott de la Vega, blasting his Secretarial Order No. 3395. As Energy In Depth reports, the Order “temporarily suspends delegations of authority regarding leasing and permitting on federal lands, with a significantly reduced staff able to approve such items. This order does not halt leasing or existing development, and at its face is a temporary measure, but is certain to create bottlenecks that last well-beyond the 60-day limit on the order.”
De la Vega started serving on January 21 and will remain in an interim capacity until Biden’s nominee, Deb Haaland, is confirmed. The Department of the Interior defended Order No. 3395 by writing, “The Order does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases and does not preclude the issuance of leases, permits and other authorizations by those specified. In addition, any actions necessary in the event of an incident that might pose a threat to human health, welfare, or safety will continue.”
“Your order is a direct attack on our economy, sovereignty, and our right to self-determination. Indian lands are not federal public lands. Any action on our lands and interests can only be taken after effective tribal consultation.
Order No. 3395 violates the United States treaty and trust responsibilities to the Ute Indian Tribe and violates important principles of tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Your order was also issued in violation (of) our government-to-government relationship. Executive Order No. 13175 on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, and Interior’s own Policy on Consultation with Tribal Governments.” -Luke Duncan, the chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee writes to de la Vega.
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