As part of getting excited for the summit, we wanted to introduce you to some of the people who are coming. Today we’d like you to meet:
Hello, I’m Lisa Deville from the Fort Berthold Reservation
The Bureau of Land Management’s Waste Prevention Rule is critical to Fort Berthold’s future.
For those of us who live on the Fort Berthold Reservation and experience intimately the industrial-scale oil and gas development in our midst, the Bureau of Land Management’s 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule was a welcome step in the right direction.
The rule was the product of more than two years of public outreach that generated more than 300,000 comments. It was the first time in 30 years that BLM updated its standards to limit waste of publicly-owned natural gas, and BLM embraced new technologies to detect leaks that otherwise waste billions of cubic feet of natural gas every year.
It also confronted the appalling waste of the public’s resources and the lost revenues resulting from flaring and venting from sloppy, outdated production practices.
My tribe, individual Indian mineral owners like my family, as well as states and the federal government lose money because of the flagrant wasting of natural gas. One study estimates that taxpayers could lose up to $800 million over the next decade as a result of waste. BLM’s rule targets that waste.
As a result, the effects on the Fort Berthold Reservation will be particularly egregious if the Waste Prevention Rule is delayed or rescinded. Revenues from the sale of captured natural gas are critical for my tribe. They support schools, health care, infrastructure improvements and roads, many of which have been crumbling under the heavy equipment used in drilling operations.
With more than 1,500 active oil and gas wells on the reservation and thousands more planned, the need to maximize revenues is obvious to everyone who lives at Fort Berthold.
But the industry has been cavalier in its exploitation of the public’s oil and gas resources.
Because of a long history of broken treaties, much of the mineral wealth beneath Fort Berthold is privately owned. That makes the minerals we have even more important. But about 50 percent of natural gas owned by my tribe and allotted to individual tribal members was flared. By contrast, the state average for flaring is 32 percent; the national average is 2 percent.
Often flaring is explained away as the unavoidable consequence of developing gas in regions far from pipelines, but more than 57 percent of the gas flared at Fort Berthold was from wells that were connected to a pipeline.
Beyond the loss of revenue, at Fort Berthold, members of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation like me, my children, and grandchildren are left to breathe air contaminated with air pollutants that can cause headaches, asthma, neurological damage, cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
Our quality of life is diminished by the rotten-egg smell of the polluted air, the roar from the gas flares, the light pollution that obliterates the night sky, and the rumbling of the earth beneath our homes from the drilling operations.
In our culture, we’re taught that the Earth is our mother, so we must protect her.
As a student of environmental science, I know that methane is the second-largest contributor to human-caused climate change, and its global-warming potential is 86 times that of carbon dioxide.
The devastating impacts on our planet are an affront to our culture, and deny our children and grandchildren the opportunity to experience the cherished relationship with the nurturing Earth and her exquisite beauty.
We need to demand that these reasonable protections for our people and our planet remain in place.
Lisa DeVille is the president of Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights. She lives in Mandaree, North Dakota with her husband, children, and grandchildren.