EOG RESOURCES WITHDRAWS OIL AND GAS PROJECT OVER UNCOMPAHGRE LANDS
Ft. Duchesne, UT —June 28, 2018.
EOG RESOURCES WITHDRAWS OIL AND GAS PROJECT AFTER FAILING
TO ADDRESS TRIBAL AUTHORITY OVER UNCOMPAHGRE LANDS
A week after the Ute Indian Tribe raised serious and significant concerns with EOG Resources’ Greater Chapita Wells Natural Gas Infill Project, EOG withdrew the Project from further consideration by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). On June 18, 2018, EOG wrote to BLM that it “is reevaluating the location, scope and nature of future development in and around the Project area.” EOG proposed to drill up to 2,808 new wells within the Tribe’s Reservation, yet never met with the Ute Indian Tribe to discuss the Tribe’s interests, concerns and authority over the Project. In comments on BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the Ute Indian Tribe emphasized its legal title to lands and minerals in the Project area. The Project is within the Tribe’s historic Uncompahgre Reservation making up the eastern half of its Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Tribe’s comments corrected BLM’s history of the Uncompahgre Reservation presented in the DEIS, affirmed the Tribe’s ongoing title to lands and minerals, and the Tribe’s authority over lands, minerals, and cultural and natural resources within the Uncompahgre Reservation. The Tribe also takes strong exception to BLM’s attempt to consult with over a dozen other Indian tribes regarding the Project while failing to consult with the Ute Indian Tribe who maintains legal title and authority over these lands within it's own Reservation.
No other Indian tribe has an interest in the lands and resources reserved as a homeland for the Tribe. Contrary to BLM, the Ute Indian Tribe respects the sovereignty and authority of Indian tribes to exclusively oversee projects on their reservation lands. BLM’s attempt to include other tribal governments in matters affecting the Tribe’s Uintah and Ouray Reservation is yet another attempt by BLM to undermine the sovereignty and authority of the Ute Indian Tribe over its lands, minerals and resources. BLM’s actions violate the United State’s treaty and trust responsibility to the Tribe. BLM also violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by only consulting with the State of Utah regarding the Project’s potential impacts on cultural resources. The NHPA requires BLM to engage the Ute Indian Tribe on projects within the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. Under these circumstances, the Ute Indian Tribe is pleased with the withdrawal of the Project from BLM consideration. Any proposal for development within the Tribe’s Uintah and Ouray Reservation, including its Uncompahgre Reservation, must come before the Ute Indian Tribe’s Business Committee.
About the Ute Indian Tribe-The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. Three bands of Utes comprise the Ute Indian Tribe: the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah Band. The Tribe has a membership of more than three thousand individuals, with over half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Ute Indian Tribe operates its own tribal government and oversees approximately 1.3 million acres of trust land which contains significant oil and gas deposits. The Tribal Business Committee is the governing council of the Tribe.