U.S. SENATE — Senator Steve Daines today took the Obama administration to task for failing to properly take into account states’ and tribes’ voices in placing a misguided moratorium on coal leasing.
During this morning’s Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing on the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Fiscal Year 2017 budget request, Daines pressed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to better incorporate Montanans voices in unilateral bureaucratic decisions that have the potential to severely cripple Montana’s coal industry.
“Several tribal members and others who rely on coal jobs to provide for their families expressed strong concern regarding potential administration actions during a listening session held in Billings,” Daines stated. “Yet, your administration is moving forward with this programmatic review and coal leasing moratorium. Quite frankly, I think there needs to be something more formal to allow states and tribes and other stakeholders a more predictable and impactful seat at the table—like the Royalty Policy Committee—which you allowed to lapse in 2014.”
Jewell could not provide Daines an answer as to why DOI allowed the Royalty Policy Committee to lapse.
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Daines continued his line of questioning from last week’s Energy and Natural Resources hearing, by explicitly pressing Jewell to define what DOI’s interpretation of “meaningful consultation” is as it applies to tribes.
Jewell testified that she has not met with Montana’s Crow Tribe for over a year and half if not more.