Begaye attends Interior energy meeting

PAGE, Ariz.

President Russell Begaye on Oct. 4 attended the Royalty Policy Committee’s first meeting at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye answers questions posed to him by members of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council during the summer session in Window Rock.

Begaye and Bidtah Becker, executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources, in September were named to serve on the Interior committee, which was re-chartered in late March after an eight-year hiatus.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke named representatives from states, tribes, the energy industry and academia to the group that will advise him on “policy and strategies” to improve the U.S. government’s management of the federal and Native American revenue program, according to the agency.

The committee will also advise Zinke on policies and regulations for revenue collection on public lands, “including whether a need exists for regulatory reform.”

Zinke named 20 members and 18 alternates. The committee includes six governors of states who receive more than $10 million per year in royalties from federal leases; six from the mineral and energy industry; four from tribes; and four from academia and public interest groups.

The appointees include representatives from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and the Osage Minerals Council.

At the Wednesday meeting, Zinke and his counselor for energy policy, Vincent DeVito, welcomed the new members.

The meeting covered a number of topics, including ways to promote energy development, providing input for communities affected by leasing activities, reassessing the economic models used by Interior, and the valuation of oil, gas and coal, according to the agency.

Three subcommittees were formed: Fair Return and Revenue; Planning, Analysis, and Competitiveness; and Indian Affairs, which Begaye was assigned to, said Mihio Manus, Begaye’s spokesman.
Manus said the president might chair this subcommittee, which will address issues specific to tribal lands and trust.

“He’ll find out,” Manus told the Navajo Times on Thursday (Oct. 5) afternoon. “It was a recommendation.”

Begaye says that the Navajo Nation is consistently told that the tribe has limited control over its natural resources and no control of its water.

“We greatly disagree with these positions,” Begaye said in a statement. “We will advocate for the Navajo Nation to assume control over all of its natural resources.”

He added, “We appreciate members of Congress that are helping us achieve this goal and we will work hard to make this happen.”

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Categories: Politics

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Krista Allen

Krista Allen is a former reporter for The Navajo Times who is now a freelance writer.