Indian Country Gets $2.5 Billion In Stimulus Package - Oil And Gas 'Sucked Out' From Navajo Country
From Falmouth Institute - American Indian Report
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress Friday includes approximately $2.5 billion to create jobs and economic opportunity in Indian Country. Below is a summary of Indian Country provisions.
INDIAN HEALTH CARE
· Indian Health Facilities – $415 million
o New construction - $227 million
o Maintenance and improvements - $100 million
o Sanitation Facilities - $68 million
o Medical Equipment - $20 million
· Indian Health Services - Health Information Technology - $85 million
BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
· BIA Office of Indian Programs - $40 million (housing improvement and workforce & training)
· BIA Construction - $450 million (schools, roads repair, jails, irrigation, dams)
PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUSTICE
· Department of Justice Grants (DOJ) - Indian Jails construction - $225 million (coordinate with BIA, consider violent crime rates and detention space needs)
· DOJ Community Oriented Policing Services – tribes eligible to compete - $1 billion program
· DOJ Violence Against Women Prosecution Grants - $22.5 million (result of a 10% tribal set-aside)
TRIBAL ROADS AND BRIDGES
· Indian Reservation Roads (DOT) – $310 million
· Tribal Transit Set-Aside (DOT) – $17.25 million
· Indian Housing block grants (HUD) – $510 million (conference note to use funding to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency in houses maintained by Native American housing programs)
· Head Start - $10 million (tribal set-aside)
· Early Head Start - tribes eligible for a portion of the $1.1 billion program
· Special Education (IDEA) – tribes eligible for a portion of the $12.2 billion program
· Impact Aid – language urges targeted funding to military and Indian reservations from the $100 million program
ENERGY AND WATER
· Bureau of Reclamation Tribal Water Projects – $60 million for water intake and treatment facilities
· Safe Drinking and Clean Water Revolving Funds – $120 million (permissive set-aside)
· Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Black Grants - $56 million (result of a 2% tribal set-aside)
· Weatherization Assistance Program – tribes are eligible to compete for competitive grants under the $5 billion program
· Indian Reservation Food Distribution (USDA) – $5 million
· Native Elder Nutrition (DHHS) - $3 million (Older Americans Act, Title IV)
· BIA Indian Loan Guarantee Program - $10 million
· Tribal Community Development Financial Institutions (Treasury) – $10 million
BONDING AUTHORITY FOR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS
· Tribal economic development tax-exempt bonds - $2 billion in bonding authority
· Qualified Indian school construction bonds - $400 million in bonding authority
· Bill language permits Indian Tribes to contract and compact to build projects and create reservation jobs pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Acts
NAVAJO LOOKING AT OIL, GAS DRAINAGE
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Are oil and gas being sucked out from under Navajo lands like a milkshake through a straw without the Nation's or individual allottees' knowledge, and if so, where are the federal agencies that are supposed to protect them?
These are a couple questions raised Monday during a report to the Resources Committee regarding the drainage of oil and gas from within the San Juan Basin.
Kevin Gambrell, who has worked as a trust manager of Indian allotted lands and was hired by Eastern Navajo Land Commission to provide an update on the drainage issue, told the committee that the Bureau of Land Management has looked at 811 drainage cases in Eastern Agency since 1979.
Out of those 811 cases, “there are 300 cases out there on the BLM list that there has not been any conclusions,” he said. “The San Juan Basin is one of the most developed basins in the world, the second largest gas basin in the United States and the most complex natural gas basin in the country.”
Due to the number of operators and the different formations in terms of gas, oil, and the type of land status – such as tribal trust, Navajo allotted, federal, fee and state lands – management of the basin is very complex and requires a lot of monitoring, he said.
Typically, an oil and gas operation drills a well next to a property and the oil or gas migrate across the property and are drained, especially in areas where there are highly porous rock formations.
“I saw one case back in 2002 where an Indian allottment had a trespass. We went out and looked at the property and within 100 feet of the property line was a well. We went back out to BLM to do the drainage review and they hadn't looked at the property ever,” Gambrell said.
When they did the review, the well actually was draining the Indian allottment and had been for 20 years, he said. “We then tried to lease the Indian allottment, because if you don't lease the property, there is no protection. It's what they call the rule of capture.
“The rule of capture basically says if this person drilled a well and they start producing oil and gas, they have a right to capture as much as they want, and it's up to the entity of the adjacent property to build a protective well and to lease that property, or to develop a compensatory royalty agreement in order to protect that mineral asset.
“In this case where we have Indian allottments and we have a federal lease, we have to lease that property in order to protect that Indian allottment's minerals,” he said.
Out of the 811 cases, only 415 actual properties – Indian allotted and tribal lands – have been reviewed, according to Gambrell. “In the last nine years, BLM has reviewed 188 drainage cases. In all those cases, there are actually five cases that BLM has determined drainage did occur. Within those five cases, there are two unleased properties and three leased Indian properties that were being drained back in 1994 and 1984.”
Gambrell said he looked at 60 cases where BLM performed an administrative review and the result was positive for drainage occurring. “They did not go on to the geological review. At that point, it stopped. That's potentially 60 more cases that were not completed in terms of the logical process.
“If you start a drainage case and you fail to go through the process and fail to go through the administrative, geologic, engineering and the economic reviews, and you just stop at one point, that case is still open, still pending. However, on BLM's spreadsheet it shows there are 129 cases where they didn't complete all the steps.”
Now that they have BLM's spreadsheets on the case reviews, he said, they need to go back and look at the actual files for each case to determine whether they have potential drainage implications. If there was a withholding of information where the damaged party did not see the data to know they were being harmed, then the statute of limitations would not apply.
Phil Harrison of the Resources Committee remarked that energy development exploitation has been going on for years. “We're getting robbed in daylight.”
Committee Chairman George Arthur said there have been Navajo individuals who have expressed drainage concerns over the past several years. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has generally failed in protecting interests of this nature, he said. “We are quite aware that they have mismanaged individual accounts in the past.”
Larry Rodgers of the Eastern Navajo Land Commission said the Bureau of Land Management also raised the question of who protects the rights of the individual allottees. “They know that Window Rock is not necessarily the main protector; it's BIA. They have the responsibility to make sure those lands are protected.”
Arthur told Resources Committee members, “It's this committee's responsibility to step up to the plate and become aggressively engaged in discussions and express an elevated concern that individual Navajo real estate owners may be being shortchanged. I think it falls to this committee to pursue this discussion in a more aggressive environment.”
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