Impacts of Resource Development on Native American Lands
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Political Issues on the Crow Reservation from Coalbed Methane

This page was written by Erin Klauk as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education. Funding was provided in part by the Montana Office of Public Instruction .

Eight Crow prisoners under guard at Crow agency, Montana. Details

Having only been developed as a resource for about 25 years, the development of coalbed methane is fairly new. Hence, the long term impacts are not yet known. If policies will in fact be needed to monitor and moderate coalbed methane development, they have only begun to be determined.

As seen in 2002, a two year legal challenge by conservation groups and Wyoming ranchers was ended. The Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled that coalbed methane leases were illegal because they were issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) without proper analysis of coalbed methane's unique impacts. Ruling in favor of the two conservation groups, the Board of Land Appeals held that coalbed methane leases are invalid and illegal when the leasing is "based on existing environmental analyses which either did not contain any discussion of the unique potential impacts associated with coalbed methane extraction and development or failed to consider reasonable alternatives relevant to a pre-leasing environmental analysis (Wyoming Coalbed Methane Leases Ruled Illegal (more info) )." Click here to view the 2003 Final Statewide Oil and Gas Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Amendment of the Powder River and Billings RMPs.

Crow women in traditional Elk tooth dresses, one sitting and holding a baby.
Crow women in traditional Elk tooth dresses, one sitting and holding a baby. Details

To further investigate the policies of the Crow Reservation, follow the links below:

Policy Resources on the Crow Reservation

Resources containing information about policies on the Crow Reservation.

  • Crow Indian Tribe Resources Report: Tribal Government (more info) This list of PDFs contains part of the final statewide oil and gas environmental impact statement and proposed amendment of the Powder River and Billings Resource Management Plans. This section thoroughly describes the tribal government of the Crow Reservation. Included are a government organization chart and a map of tribal legislative districts within the Crow Nation.
  • 2001 Constitution This website contains information about the 2001 constitution and bylaws of the Crow Nation. Included is a link to recent stories on tribal issues.

To further investigate policy issues related to the Crow Reservation from coalbed methane development, follow the links below:

Policy Resources about Coalbed Methane on the Crow Reservation

Resources containing information about policies on coalbed methane on the Crow Reservation.

  • Final Statewide Oil and Gas EIS and Proposed Amendment of the Powder River and Billings RMPs. This Environmental Impact Statement documents and discloses the results of the environmental analysis of anticipated coal bed methane and oil and gas development in the state of Montana. The extensive PDF document is intended to provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts, and shall inform decision makers and the public of reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. The summary version, a 31 page PDF file, should probably be viewed first, followed by a more thorough investigation of the full document if necessary. (more info)
  • Final Statewide Oil and Gas Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed Amendment of the Powder River and Billings Resource Management Plans: Crow Tribe Narrative Report. This resource contains links to each section of the Crow tribe narrative report contained in the final statewide oil and gas environmental impact statement and proposed amendment of the Powder River and Billings Resource Management Plans. Included is are links to information about the Crow tribal government, Indian trust assets, land use and realty, socio-economics, economy, air quality, culture and history, geology and minerals, hydrology, soils, vegetation, wildlife, facilities, services and recreation. (more info)
  • Wyoming Coalbed Methane Leases Ruled Illegal. This Environmental News Service article discusses the Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals 2002 ruling that coalbed methane leases are illegal because they were issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) without proper analysis of coalbed methane's unique impacts. (more info)



For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.




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