David Lester: CERT works with tribes to enhance their sovereignty
"Your article on the new pipeline that will bring cleaner-burning natural gas to the West Coast from the Rocky Mountains starting next year (“Pipeline creates tribal dissent,” Vol. 30, No. 17) contains numerous factual errors about the project and its vital importance to Indian country. It also badly mischaracterizes the mission of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes, the nonprofit coalition of 58 U.S. Indian tribes and Canadian First Treaty Nations that for the past 35 years has helped tribes gain greater control of their own natural resources to achieve economic self-sufficiency and independence.

The nearly 700-mile pipeline, called Ruby, is currently under construction in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon. Once completed in spring 2011, the Ruby Pipeline will strengthen the market competitiveness of natural gas produced on Native American tribal lands in the Rocky Mountain Basin – not just from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, as the article wrongly implies, but other tribal lands (Northern Arapaho, Eastern Shoshone, Ute Mountain Ute, and the Ute Indian Tribe). Gas from these tribes is relatively underpriced due to a lack of interstate pipeline infrastructure to bring it to market. Because federal law requires interstate pipelines to provide transportation services on an open-access basis – that is, interconnect with other pipelines, much like local connectivity to long-distance telephone service – all five tribes will now be able to sell gas to new customers, including public utilities serving homes and businesses across the West.

Many other Indian tribes and nations will benefit from an environmental standpoint as natural gas replaces coal-fired power plants as mandated in California and other states. This includes tribes focused on developing their renewable energy resources for greater independence from foreign supplies, a vital mission of CERT and its membership. When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, reliable access to affordable natural gas – made possible by projects such as Ruby – provides the essential bridge to green energy."

Get the Story:
David Lester: CERT and the Ruby Pipeline Project: Working together to enhance tribal sovereignty (Indian Country Today 11/1)

Earlier Story:
Pipeline creates tribal dissent (Indian Country Today 9/27)