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
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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