The story of the Powder River Basin is the story of America. It is a region rich in traditions, culture, history and wildlife but it is also the setting of America’s relentless thirst for energy.
The drive for coal, oil and a newer form of natural gas, coal bed methane is quickly transforming the region into a National Sacrifice Area and threatens to permanently change the region for the farmers, ranchers, tribes and wildlife that call it home.
Powder River Basin Summit
June 17-19, 2009
|Summit participants in the Billings Depot|
|N. Cheyenne riders on Rosebud Battlefield|
|Colstrip Power Plant|
On June 17 – 19, 2009, the Powder River Basin Summit was held in Billings, MT, drawing over 150 participants from seven Native American tribes, as well as ranchers, conservationists, and elected officials. The goal of the meeting was to bring together conservation leaders and stakeholders from the region to form a coalition to protect the area from rapid energy development, prevent the Powder River Basin from becoming a National Sacrifice Area and keep this carbon in the ground.
The three-day event kicked off with a fieldtrip to the Rosebud Battlefield in southeastern Montana to celebrate its recognition as a National Historic Landmark. Over 200 people attended on the 133rd anniversary of the battle in which General Crook was defeated by the Sioux and Cheyenne, preventing his ranks from meeting up with General Custer and setting the stage for Custer’s legendary defeat in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Although this designation does not legally protect the Battlefield from energy development, it raises public awareness and puts an extra layer of public scrutiny on the energy companies.
On June 18, attendees gathered in the historic Billings Depot to discuss the implications and challenges of protecting the Powder River Basin. After an opening prayer and flag song by the Cheyenne drummers, speakers addressed mineral development and mining of coal, uranium and coalbed methane, and the impacts of this development on threatened species such as sage grouse and pallid sturgeon. Ranchers and tribes shared stories of their efforts to protect their land, water and way of life from coal and coalbed methane development.
The keynote address was delivered by Winona Laduke, a nationally-recognized environmental justice activist and former vice presidential candidate for the Green Party. Throughout the day, the rumble of trains carrying Powder River Basin coal directly behind the Depot poignantly demonstrated the importance of this summit.
On June 19, stakeholders met to build a strategy for drawing national attention to the region and to develop an action plan to promote responsible energy development in the area. Future coalition activities are in the works so stay tuned!
Thanks to everyone who attended the Powder River Basin Summit.
For more information contact:
Alexis Bonogofsky, National Wildlife Federation
406-698-4720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Economic Need Clashes with Tribe's Culture in Montana
Published in USA Today on March 3, 2009
LAME DEER, Mont. — Jobs are scarce and poverty is pervasive on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, but rich coal deposits lie beneath the buttes where wild horses roam. For decades, many members of the tribe have resisted coal mining. Now, increased demand for coal and the election of a new tribal president who is determined to create jobs are reigniting debate over energy development among the reservation's 4,500 residents. It's a conflict between tribal traditions and economic self-sufficiency that has long divided people here and on other reservations across America with coal, oil and gas and other mineral reserves.
Help Determine the Future of the Powder River Basin
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comments on a plan that will establish how oil, gas, coal, grazing, wildlife and other resources are managed for the next 20 years in the Powder River Basin. All comments by the public or any interested agencies made during the next 30 days will be used to guide the BLM on how it sets priorities. Comments are due by January 5, 2009.
The BLM manages more than 800,000 acres of surface land and 4.7 million acres of mineral estate holdings for the public in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. These resources are under extreme pressure to be developed since much of the private energy resources in the area have already been developed.
Oil, gas and coal development in the Powder River Basin has put the wildlife, water resources, farmers & ranchers and historic and cultural sites at risk (see below). We need hunters, anglers, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who values our public land to tell the BLM that all of our resources are valuable and that oil and gas development should not take precedence over wildlife, water and farmers & ranchers.
Written comments and data submissions are due January 5, 2009 and should be submitted to:
BFO RMP Revision Project Manager BLM Buffalo Field Office 1425 Fort Street Buffalo, Wyoming 82834.
Electronic comments may be sent to BRMP_Rev_WYMail@blm.gov.
To have your name added to the RMP mailing list, contact Linda Slone at (307) 261-7520.
For more information about NWF's work in the Montana and Wyoming's Powder River Basin email Alexis Bongofsky, email@example.com
ROSEBUD BATTLEFIELD RECIEVES NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK STATUS
The Great Sioux War of 1876-1877 was the largest and widest ranging war between the U.S. Army and the American Indians in the country’s history. Through the work of two dedicated and persistent Northern Cheyenne tribal members and with the help of the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Lands Conservation Program and many other groups and agencies, one of the greatest battles in this war, “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother” also known as Rosebud Battle, was named a National Historic Landmark on October 7, 2008 by Dick Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, elevating it to a status that less than 2,500 historic sites in the United States share. National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture.