The Montana Legislature's State-Tribal Relations Committee (STRC) is calling for a more rigorous and meaningful public comment process for the draft supplemental environmental impact statement recently released for the proposed pipeline in northeast Montana.
In a letter to Montana's congressional delegation, the STRC said the scheduling of one public meeting in the country was insufficient for a project with potential for broad impacts. The committee also said the format of the October 29 meeting in Billings, which included neither a formal presentation nor an opportunity to provide comment publicly, was inconsistent with past practices and did not afford participants the opportunity to listen to the comments of other stakeholders.
The committee also expressed concern about the lack of formal consultation with tribes per discussions with members of the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the Fort Peck Tribes.
During its meeting in Billings on November 11 and 12, the STRC also discussed improving communication between tribes and the state child protective services, tribal treaty rights and land status, barriers to voting by American Indians, cancelled sweat ceremonies at the prison in Shelby, and tribal uniform commercial codes. The committee also toured the Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center and observed Judge Rod Souza's ICWA Court.
Members of the STRC include Representatives Jade Bahr (D-Billings); Alan Doane (R-Bloomfield); Dale Mortensen (R-Billings); Vice Chair Rae Peppers (D-Lame Deer); Joe Read (R-Ronan); and Sharon Stewart Peregoy (D-Crow Agency); as well as Senators Jen Gross (D-Billings); Dan Salomon (R-Ronan); Chair Jason Small (R-Busby); and Frank Smith (D-Poplar).
The committee meets again March 5-6 in Helena. For additional information, visit the committee's website or contact Hope Stockwell, committee staff.
Committee website: http://leg.mt.gov/tribal
Committee staff: 406-444-9280 or firstname.lastname@example.org