US Energy Policy Harms Native Americans

October 27, 2013 Updated: October 27, 2013

An Interview With A Lenape Principal Chief

A few weeks ago I was privileged to interview the Principal Chief of the last known Lenape tribe in New Jersey, Dr. Ronald Yonaguska Holloway, of the Sand Hill Nation.  He spoke at length about his fight to stop the fracked gas pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania through the most sacred and environmentally sensitive parts of New Jersey and the Delaware River Valley.

The fact that the pipeline is being built in the Highlands region of New Jersey, a prime source of clean fresh drinking water as well as prime hunting and fishing lands used for recreational tourism, has local environmentalists up in arms as well.   This particular project is being allowed to proceed despite the fact that the Sand Hill Nation was never even notified before work began.  And the Sand Hill Nation’s  Cease and Desist order to stop work was dismissed without prejudice because they needed to illustrate in more detail that destroying sacred and environmentally sensitive lands would harm the Sand Hill Nation more than stopping work would harm the gas company.

Pipelines Destroying Paradise

Our “all of the above” energy policy is destroying many beautiful places across the United States and Canada as well as around the world.  The push to encourage the process known as “fracking” where clean fresh water is poisoned with chemicals and forced at great pressure underground to split rock apart to release methane gas  has resulted in many environmental catastrophes. 

The explosive nature of methane gas, the fact that the pipelines expose nearby residents to danger, that fracking fluids used are toxic but exempt from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, (the Halliburton Loophole) and the fact that fracking has been linked to earthquakes, makes it hazardous to everyone nearby.  Natural gas extraction is neither “clean” because of how it is produced, nor a bridge away from fossil fuels. It IS a fossil fuel with a more powerful greenhouse gas effect than CO2.  Pipelines across Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey simply institutionalize a fuel which should be on its way out and threaten drinking water for millions in the New York area.  

Treaties Ignored  (Again)

The blatant way the United States Government is ignoring the wishes and desires of the Native American tribes who are most affected by the effects of fracking and pipelines is appalling.  That all an energy company has to do to ignore a tribe is send notice to the wrong address is absurd, which is what happened in the case of the Sand Hill Nation. Then, once a tribe objects – to place the tribe’s rights under treaty at a lower priority than the gas company’s profits is equally infuriating.  The first contact tribes who have not given away their sovereignty to the United States, as Chief Holloway discusses,  are the only tribes that have the ability to stop the pipelines in North America. The Sand Hill Nation is one of the very few remaining first contact tribes in America.

I encourage readers to watch the video. It is extremely rare to be able to conduct an interview with a Principal Chief, as they are rarely seen publicly.   Principal Chief Holloway also shares his thoughts on how the United States Government should interact with Native American tribes in the future so that treaties are respected. His thoughts on the BIA and the current way the US treats Native Americans are enlightening and surprising.  Chief Holloway’s description of just how important these sacred sites are is compelling as well.  Eloquent and at turns humorous, Chief Holloway makes his case against the pipeline and for a new way forward.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Carol is a licensed Water Resources Civil Engineer practicing in Northern NJ. In 2007, Carol became known statewide in NJ as an elected official/political blogger by raising awareness of NJ political corruption not being covered by the local press. Before switching careers, Carol studied Food Science and Agricultural Engineering at Rutgers and worked as a Research & Development food process engineer.