Fri Dec 8th, 2017
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
The Southern Ute Department of Energy (DOE) held an informative presentation to review policies and procedures for ‘Operator’s Compliance’ in regards to energy development projects on the Southern Ute Reservation, Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Growth Fund Headquarters in Ignacio, Colo.
“There are a lot of new faces on the reservation, lots of changes in lease ownership,” said Karen Spray, Exploration and Production manager for the Department of Energy. The role of the DOE is to ensure that the Tribe receives maximum energy benefits. “This is Southern Ute land, this is their backyard, this is their home,” she said.
The presentation was aimed at introducing, or updating outside operators on the rules governing how they comply, and do business within the Tribe’s reservation boundaries.
“Leases do require Tribal Council approval,” Spray said, “part of a sequential process.”
DOE presented a flowchart to walk operators through the process and keep everyone on track, and on schedule. “Start early, walk the process through. Cultural clearance is mandatory. We are trying to protect the Tribe’s environment,” emphasized Spray.
Operators might work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tribal Air Permitting and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), depending on circumstances and location of the lease; the Southern Ute Reservation is a ‘checker board’ reservation.
“We try to look into the future as much as possible,” Environmental Compliance Specialist for the Department of Energy, Doug Krueger said. “[Our role is to] protect tribal resources for the tribal membership.”
“Were here to work with you,” Kruger said, addressing the room full of oil & gas operators. “Communication and consistency is what we expect. We want you working here, we want it done right.”
Noise was cited as the number one complaint received from the tribal membership, therefore noise standards are included as a stipulation. Visual mitigation is also a factor.
One of the expectations set forth through compliance is to reduce the footprint of operations through reclamation. Operators are responsible for topsoil storage and salvage to meet surface compliance inspections. Reclamation also includes roads and waterways; the Southern Ute Tribal Council passed a resolution in 2017 classifying roads for reclamation. “The reclamation process could take years,” cautioned Krueger, “the manual is a tool to help you navigate.”
Kruger reemphasized respect for culture and tribal resources as top priority.