Guest Column | Why should Nation support helium development?
by Lennard Eltsosie
The Navajo Nation Oil & Gas Company believes the answer can be found in the distinguished history of the code talkers who served the United States during World War II with honor.
Their incredible accomplishments in defending freedom are a source of pride throughout the Nation as these heroes are an example of duty.
The company is proposing exploration because we believe that providing helium to the global market in support of humanitarian needs appeals to a similar belief that helping mankind is an honor.
Within the Nation lies the backbone of mankind’s existing technology and the beating heart of our future technology. Helium is critical for medical applications and scientific research and everything from supercomputing to space travel.
Yet, for all its uses, it is in short supply. In fact, we are currently facing a global supply shortage.
Without helium, these technologies would be inadequate at best and eliminated at worst.
Helium is an exhaustible natural resource for which there are limited or no substitutes. The resource emits from Mother Earth constantly, but is only trapped in large enough quantities in certain areas.
The Navajo Nation is blessed to be one of those areas, with high concentrations from seven to eight percent of the gas stream – a significant amount.
Unfortunately, various groups are spreading a misinformation campaign that states that helium is a fossil fuel, mining is involved, and our precious water sources will be harmed.
These groups are not only spreading false information, but they are also aggressively trying to intimidate chapter house leaders and Council delegates.
To see the truth, take a look at the facts.
1. Helium is an odorless, colorless, non-toxic gas, and is part of the atmosphere we breathe.
2. It is physically impossible to mine helium. The process to bring the gas to the surface involves drilling that is similar to producing a water well.
3. Helium is thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. The water at this depth is not safe to drink as it has high concentrations of salt and other dissolved solids.
The company is governed by a board of directors, the majority of which are Navajo with experience in education, aerospace, law, architecture and the oil and gas industry.
All board members must pass stringent requirements to be eligible for membership. As a Section 17 Navajo entity, the company also reports to five shareholder representatives from the Navajo Nation Council who ensure that the company follows the core values of the Navajo people.
These values include striving for profitable growth, protecting Mother Earth, and embracing Navajo culture while delivering local community support and financial returns to the Navajo Nation.
The company is a financially strong, well-financed company that not only employs many Navajos but helps to cultivate future Navajo leaders.
To explore for helium on the Navajo Nation, the company needs the consent of Council and is working with the honorable delegates on operating agreements to allow for development.
The resolution calls for the negotiated agreements to flow through the Nation’s 164 process and be reviewed for approval by the Council and president’s officeent. This time-honored process also allows for review by various Navajo Nation agencies such as EPA, Land, Fish & Wildlife, Antiquities, Minerals, and DOJ.
If approved, phase one revenue benefits to the Navajo Nation General Fund will exceed $115 million, and NNOGC will also provide a bonus and scholarship payment upon agreement between all parties.
Local chapters where the exploration will take place will also see a direct monetary benefit. As you can see, helium exploration on Navajo Nation has the potential to bring billions of dollars to the Nation and improve the quality of life for all our people.
Moreover, we at NNOGC are very respectful of the Navajo traditional way of life and by doing so, the company presents traditional offers to Mother Earth, and Father Sky and all divine elements to assure that we are granted safety, good life and what we produce from the Earth is acknowledged by the holy people.
Lennard Eltsosie is chairman of the board of directors for Navajo Nation Oil & Gas Company.