Trump Advisors Plan to Privatize Native Lands to Tap Into Oil Rich Reservations
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is only one battle in a larger war. Following news of the Army Corps' decision to halt the pipeline's construction, Reuters reported that President-elect Donald Trump's advisors are seeking to privatize Native American reservations, which sit on an estimated 20 percent of the nation's oil and gas, along with large amounts of coal reserves. These resources are worth nearly $1.5 trillion.
Fracking flares near agricultural land and a lake near the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota.Emily Arasim
"We should take tribal land away from public treatment. As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), a Cherokee tribe member and chair of Trump's 27-member Native American Affairs Coalition.
The formation of the coalition was announced in October with the aim of electing Trump for president.
"As a local elected official, I am outraged that Indian Country is prevented from harnessing our own energy resources by ever-increasing regulations," state Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage (R-NM 4th District), a Navajo tribe member and coalition co-chair, said in October. "The Trump Administration will ease restrictions on American energy reserves worth trillions of dollars. Together we will block the bureaucrats holding Native American businesses back and bring new jobs into our communities."
As it happens, three of the four chair-level coalition members have ties to Big Energy. According to campaign finance disclosures cited by Reuters, Mullin has received about eight percent of his campaign funds from energy companies while Clahchischilliage has received about 15 percent of her campaign funds from energy companies.
Fellow co-chair and Cherokee nation ex-chief Ross Swimmer said it is possible to privatize reservations while limiting land sales to non-Indian buyers.
"It has to be done with an eye toward protecting sovereignty," said Swimmer, who is a partner at an Native American-focused investment fund that has invested in Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the heavily contested DAPL.
However, prominent Native American leaders have spoken against privatization.
"Our spiritual leaders are opposed to the privatization of our lands, which means the commoditization of the nature, water, air we hold sacred," said Tom Goldtooth, who runs the Indigenous Environmental Network and is a member of both the Navajo and the Dakota tribes.
"Privatization has been the goal since colonization—to strip Native Nations of their sovereignty," Goldtooth added.
Thousands of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors are celebrating after the Army Corps' rejection of the DAPL project but many water protectors also recognize the fight is not yet over. As Goldtooth said, this is "check, not checkmate."
Despite the Army Corps' decision, Energy Transfer Partners said that it is still committed to seeing this "vital" pipeline "brought to completion."
My dad's words: This is Check, not Checkmate. Boom.— Dallas Goldtooth (@Dallas Goldtooth)1480917568.0
Trump has holdings in Energy Transfer Partners and officially voiced support for the pipeline, even though his team said his support "had nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans." The incoming president has also picked climate change deniers and pro-fossil fuel bigwigs for cabinet positions.
Not only that, many pro-drilling politicians currently sit in a GOP-controlled House of Representatives and Senate. Following the Army Corps' Sunday announcement, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted: "This is big-government decision-making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us."
This is big-government decision-making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind u… https://t.co/Dxcmrtv8dy— Paul Ryan (@Paul Ryan)1480896134.0
Hundreds of endangered sea turtles were stranded on beaches after suffering "cold stunning" in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass. Local rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators stabilized the turtles at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ) and National Marine Life Center and began treatment. Many of the sea turtles were transported by land or air to partner facilities around the Eastern Seaboard for longer-term care to make room for more incoming, cold-stunned animals.
Rehabilitators at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys assess critically endangered, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles flown in after rescue in New England. The Turtle Hospital<p>NEAQ and local rescuers begin seeing turtles every fall when water temperatures drop to that 50 degrees F threshold, and typically expect to find them into early January. After that, <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/sea-turtle-cape-cod-weather-2621527394.html" target="_self">temperatures are so cold that any animals found are usually no longer alive</a>.</p><p>Merigo estimated that this year's cold season "looks very busy" and noted that local rescue efforts had already surpassed 400 turtles.</p><p>"It is a lot of animals. They're still coming in," she told EcoWatch as she surveyed 39 rescued turtles that day and 20 the day prior. "So far, this is a huge year."</p><p>At NEAQ, the turtles are gradually warmed up about five to 10 degrees F a day. More aggressive warming can cause serious damage and the turtle might not survive, Merigo said. Emergency treatments also include providing replacement fluids, balancing electrolytes and addressing pneumonia. Assessments take place for other serious problems too, such as shell or limb fractures, frostbite, emaciation and eye damage.<span></span></p><p>As local aquariums don't have the capacity to care for all the injured turtles, a group of private pilots called <a href="https://www.turtlesflytoo.org/" target="_blank">"Turtles Fly Too"</a> donated planes, fuel and time to transport some to various partner facilities around the country. Other turtles were driven to closer care facilities.</p><p>"We have a huge network of really great partners working with us, so if we can spread out the care, we can give better care to all the animals," Merigo said.</p><p>The 40 Kemp's ridley sea turtles recovering in The Turtle Hospital will continue to be treated and rehabilitated anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the severity of injuries, Zirkelbach said.</p><p>The turtle expert noted that while she's treated cold-stunned turtles from the north before, the newest arrivals were the most cold-stunned Kemp's ridleys ever received at one time.</p>
After rescue, cold-stunned sea turtles received immediate emergency care and assessments at the New England Aquarium. Caitlin Cunningham / New England Aquarium<p>In the past decade, the Gulf of Maine, which spans from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia, has warmed 99 percent faster than the rest of the ocean, Zirkelbach said. The warm water encourages turtles that migrate north along the Gulf Stream in warmer months to stay in the bay longer.</p><p>"Turtles that fail to migrate south get stuck in the unique horseshoe-shaped topography of the Cape Cod peninsula, and when temperatures drop, the bay becomes a death trap," she added.</p><p>Before ocean temperatures warmed, the waters of Maine were too cold for many of these sea turtles, Merigo echoed. Now, with warming sea surface temperatures, Maine can reach the high 70s to low 80s, which is "perfect turtle temperature," she said. The potential for more turtles getting trapped in the bay and then cold-stunned is nerve-racking for Merigo.</p><p>In addition to shifting habitats as waters warm, warming global temperatures also disrupt natural gender balance in sea turtles, Merigo warned. Gender is determined by the temperature of eggs in nests, and as the planet warms, it will result in all females at some point, she said.</p><p>"The turtles we work with are all endangered and threatened," Merigo said. "For sea turtles in general, the future is a little grim. Climate change is real; it does impact them."</p>
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