The head of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, Chairman Mark Fox, recently raised concerns in a hearing with North Dakota lawmakers regarding the oil tax sharing agreement between the state and the tribe as well the potential shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Fox proposed the MHA Nation levy its own tax on the oil wells that begin off the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation but straddle the boundary. Currently, all tax revenue from those wells goes to the state under the existing agreement, amounting to millions of dollars each year. Fox called the situation an “inequity that has existed for a long time.” North Dakota State Senators and the tribe will continue further discussion regarding the proposed legislation.
Fox also highlighted a draft letter he’s considering sending to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline. The letter requests a single tribe consultation between the MHA Nation and the Corps regarding “the alternatives being considered by the Corps regarding continuity of operations of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) or alternative delivery systems while any NEPA-related or other federal review of DAPL is conducted.”
The letter further describes the importance of oil and gas production to the MHA Nation, and the role of DAPL:
“Over half of the oil produced on our Reservation is transported to market via DAPL. MHA Nation’s interests as an oil and gas producing Tribe are unique among other Tribes in our region. We insist on a one-on-one consultation before any action is taken that would adversely impact the market value of or oil and gas resources…”
The discussion and letter come after a years of legal challenges to DAPL, which has safely operated for nearly four years. The pipeline plays a critical role in transporting Bakken crude from North Dakota to a hub in southern Illinois. While the Corps is considering the next steps on DAPL, it is paramount they prioritize its benefits and recognize the pipeline’s safety record.