Tribal nations oppose drilling of 5,000 wells in Wyoming

Associated Press
Farm Forum

CASPER, Wyo. - Leaders of several tribal nations said a Trump administration decision to permit five oil companies drilling rights in Wyoming will destroy cultural resources, compromise air and water quality and violate existing treaty rights, Native American tribal leaders say.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe said U.S. regulators failed to uphold federal law and fairly consult local tribes when they made their decision, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Jan. 5.

The tribe also said the environmental reviews that occurred in conjunction with the project were “deficient,” according to their recent protests.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued an order Dec. 23 that will allow for year-round drilling on federal leases in Converse County. The order followed completion of a roughly seven-year environmental analysis.

The area carries significant meaning for over a dozen tribes with history in the southern Powder River Basin, the newspaper reported.

Cultural resources, sacred sites and rivers within the area are important for many local tribes. The rivers within the approved project area serve as an important water source for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and other tribes in the Sioux Nation. Multiple treaties grant the tribes rights to the land.

The project would involve construction of up to 5,000 oil and natural gas wells, 1,500 multi-well pads and hundreds of miles of gas and water pipelines in the Powder River Basin. The approval also allows for the construction of roads, electrical lines and other infrastructure on federal leases in the region.

Wyoming lawmakers have expressed substantial support for the Converse County oil and gas project, the newspaper reported. The project expects to bring up to 8,000 jobs and between $18 billion and $28 billion in state and federal revenue.