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In a recently released oil and gas assessment (April 30, 2013) by the United States Geological Survey, for the Baaken and Three Forks Formations of North and South Dakota and Montana, it was found that the estimate for oil reserves in the region, doubled to 7.4 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil, a significant increase from 3.65 billion barrels from the 2008 assessment and expands the ‘Baaken Oil Play’ onto tribal ‘homelands’ previously thought to be unproductive.
President Obama’s newly appointed Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “These world-class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.” More than 4,000 oil wells have been drilled in the Williston Basin since the 2008 assessment, with an estimated 6,000 more to be drilled in the near future.
The USGS calls the formations "the largest continuous oil accumulation it has ever assessed" — and 'some industry insiders think its potential is even stronger', though the estimated South Dakota production was 'near non-existent', according to the study.
It was a 'moment' in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa's history every member can take pride in.
The board will be expanded from 5 to 15 members with terms of appointment for three years.
Tribal Chairman Richard Mc Cloud concluded, "In the future, water will be worth more than oil.
Here, in the Turtle Mountains, in the 'heart' of Turtle Island, the blood (water) flows, and affects 'all' out there, as we are 'all' interconnected." The tribal council listened intently to Christa Monette's power point presentation on hydraulic fracturing and the possibilites of oil development in the Turtle Mountains, a forested wetlands in northern North Dakota that receives 10% more precipitation than the rest of the state. She discussed how the fracking of a single well uses millions of gallons of water combined with hundreds of tons of chemicals including known toxins and carcinogens.She also talked about the gas flaring taking place in western North Dakota, a huge waste of energy that contributes to climate change and the toxic and radioactive waste water and how it's being unaccounted for in the Baaken.There was discussion about the impacts of oil development in Fort Berthold and contamination of the water in Fort Peck.If the Little Shell Aquifer is destroyed by oil development, it would take 100 years to replenish itself." She asked the tribal council for authorization for the group, along with the Tribe's Water Resources Department to begin working on a new water code for the tribe, with the Anishinaabe traditional teachings about the sacred water written into the Preamble.
"Every one of us needs to be proactive to protect our water." She also asked the tribal council for access to the tribe's legal resources, as the group would like to include the legal language in the rewriting of the water code giving the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa 'authority' over the Little Shell Aquifer, stating, "According to the Winter's Doctrine, a famous Montana water rights case and Supreme Court ruling, Indian tribes have a legal and inherent right to water.I feel proud that we are taking this stand."After discussion, the Turtle Mountain Tribal Council voted unanimously to form a new and expanded Tribal Water Board of Directors giving authority to the group to rewrite the tribe's water code.