The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Requesting the Environmental Protection Agency Extend the Deadline for Completion of an Oil and Gas Minor Source Permit for Indian Country by at Least One Year and Consult in a Meaningful Way with Affected Tribes
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, members of the NCAI are committed to the responsible development of energy resources, including oil and natural gas, within Indian Country; and
WHEREAS, many NCAI member Tribes rely on revenue from energy development as the primary source of funding for a broad range of programs that benefit Tribal members, including protection of their natural resources, providing housing, education and emergency medical services, and ensuring public safety; and
WHEREAS, when companies are forced to lay down rigs or move them to areas outside of Indian Country, Tribes and their members suffer as revenues to the Tribes decline; and
WHEREAS, Tribal industry partners currently are completing drilling schedules and making decisions on where to deploy capital for calendar year 2014 and must take into account regulatory uncertainty; and
WHEREAS, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized regulations for Review of New Sources in Indian Country in August 2011, the agency committed to having available by September 2014 general permits for sources in the oil and gas sector in Indian Country; and
WHEREAS, the agency has not yet shared with Tribes a draft general permit for oil and gas sources either for specific reservations or for national applicability, and may not have a draft available for review until late this year or early 2014 and has declined to make a draft available for review by affected Tribes before the draft becomes available to the general public; and
WHEREAS, even once a general minor source permit for Indian Country is finalized it likely will not go into effect for two months subsequent to that date and it will take the agency additional time to process a backlog of permit registrations or applications; and
WHEREAS, it may already be too late for the agency to complete [mal action on a general permit for minor sources in Indian Country by September 2014; and
WHEREAS, energy companies must make firm schedules for drilling rigs well in advance of any plausible date by which the EPA could both complete action on a general permit for minor sources for the oil and gas sector and complete action on permit applications or registrations; and
WHEREAS, as a result of this situation, Tribal energy partners will either need to begin filing hundreds of individual, site-specific minor source permits that would be needed to continue activities in the second half of 2014 and subsequent months, recognizing that EPA lacks the resources to process even the individual permit applications already on file, or energy companies will be forced to schedule rigs for sites outside of Indian Country, thereby depriving Tribes of vitally needed revenues.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI calls upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to extend the deadline for requiring preconstruction permits for minor sources in the oil and gas sector on Indian Country by at least a year, to ensure that the agency, Tribes, and their industry partners can develop a general minor source permit or permit by rule that is effective and streamlined; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should use as a guide in developing a general permit for minor sources in the oil and gas sector the streamlined general permits or registrations used by state agencies that border energy-producing tribes, and incorporate as many of the same substantive provisions found in those permits to ensure parity between Tribal and state regulatory systems; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should work with Tribes to ensure the general permit structure includes provisions for booster compressors that are needed to push natural gas into gathering lines, and to thereby capture product for sale while minimizing flaring; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI insists that the Environmental Protection Agency, in keeping with the sovereign rights of American Indian Tribes, and the government-to-government relationship between Tribes and the United States Government, and the agency's own consultation policies, must ensure full and early consultation between the agency and Tribes on matters affecting those Tribes, including review and collaboration on draft regulations and or permits before those drafts are released for public comment; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2013 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Cox Business Center from October 13 - 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present.