Published July 25, 2016
Just days after Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) Vice President Tom Poor informed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that the OST was calling for a Congressional investigation into the conduct of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in its drive to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it has been revealed that USFWS contracted multinational oil and gas services group, Amec Foster Wheeler, for the peer review of its delisting rule. Central to Poor Bear’s original complaint are ties between a USFWS grizzly delisting official and trophy hunting juggernaut, Safari Club International, and an apparent connection to multinational energy company, Anadarko Petroleum and Gas.
“I find it shameful,” responds Poor Bear, “and I would urge other tribal leaders and all who care about Mother Earth to stand with us or risk falling for anything,” says the Oglala Vice President. In the OST letter to Secretary Jewell, Poor Bear cited USFWS scientific integrity violations related to the Keystone XL Pipeline, and called into question the impartiality of former Acting USFWS Director, Matt Hogan, who is now central to delisting the grizzly. “It is a conflict of interests when one of USFWS’s deputy directors, Matt Hogan, the official charged with supposedly contacting tribes, is, in fact, a trophy hunter and was formerly Safari Club International’s chief lobbyist to Capitol Hill. It has been revealed that Hogan also has ties to Anadarko Petroleum and Gas, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and one of the largest landowners in Wyoming,” Poor Bear wrote to Jewell.
Before entering the ranks of USFWS, Hogan was Legislative Director for former Secretary of the US Army, Congressman Preston M. Geren III, who retired from Anadarko’s board of directors in 2014. Anadarko describes itself as “one of the largest landowners and leaseholders in the state of Wyoming” and is one of the biggest campaign finance contributors to Wyoming Governor, Matt Mead, and Senator Mike Enzi, Senator John Barrasso, and Representative Lummis of Wyoming’s Congressional delegation, all of whom have aggressively promoted the grizzly delisting agenda and the dismantling of the ESA. Hogan has not responded to emails asking about his connection to Anadarko, but states, “The peer reviewers were selected by an independent, third-party contractor, not by the Service.”
In April, that “independent, third-party contractor,” Amec Foster and Wheeler, appointed Halliburton executive Jonathan Lewis as CEO. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the godfather of Wyoming politics, was Halliburton CEO from 1995–2000. “This speaks for itself. How can anybody think that a multinational in the energy business run by a former Halliburton executive can execute a credible peer review process of a delisting rule of this magnitude when the agency in question, USFWS, speaks of 28 mines waiting to be developed and become operational in Greater Yellowstone upon the delisting of the grizzly,” says GOAL Chairman, David Bearshield, who called it “brazen” and added that “in light of the revelations” about Amec Foster and Wheeler and Anadarko, he hoped people would take note of what A. Gay Kingman recently warned.
Kingman, one of the most respected leaders in Indian Country and Executive Director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association issued a statement in spring, in which she cautioned, “It is my duty to alert you to what is now a clear and present danger to tribal sovereignty, tribal spiritual and religious freedoms, and self-determination. The conduct of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in accommodating states interests over those of federally recognized Indian tribes in the matter of delisting and trophy hunting the grizzly bear on ancestral tribal and treaty lands threatens irreparable harm to tribal rights if it is not challenged.”
Tribes oppose the delisting of the grizzly bear on the basis of sovereignty, treaty, consultation, and spiritual and religious freedom violations. In a just released statement, Northern Cheyenne President, Llevando Fisher, affirms that delisting will, “negatively impact our Northern Cheyenne culture and the traditional ceremonial practices of which the grizzly bear has a very unique position. As a Sovereign Indian Nation we stand together with the other members of our family of Indian Nations that oppose the delisting of the grizzly bear.”
Anadarko, which made one of the largest settlements in history with the DOJ in 2014, including $1 billion for uranium spills that polluted water on the Navajo Nation, is presently developing gas operations in Mozambique where Amec Foster and Wheeler was recently awarded a massive design and engineering contract for liquefied petroleum gas and gas projects. Mozambique is also a trophy hunters’ haven. In 2015, the World Bank approved a grant to Mozambique, $700,000 of which is to facilitate trophy hunting. Under the grant, 80 permits per year will be issued to hunt elephants, and up to 60 for lions. A World Bank spokesman described trophy hunting as “an important tool” for the management of Mozambique’s “natural assets.” According to GOAL’s Bearshield, “that is exactly the logic USFWS is applying to trophy hunting the grizzly.”
More than fifty federally recognized tribes supported by the Assembly of First Nations oppose the delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear and have coalesced around GOAL Tribal Coalition.
Vice President Poor reiterates that, “delisting the grizzly bear is driven by political special interests, not science, and is about the exploitation of over 2 million acres of land.” For over two years tribes have petitioned USFWS to release the taxpayer funded raw scientific data it claims to have based its decision on. “The data used by the Service in making the proposed Yellowstone grizzly bear delisting rule is available to the public on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s (IGBST) website,” responded Hogan. “The only information not shared with the public is geospacial data,” he claims. “Hogan is either uninformed, disingenuous, or lying outright. Given his background, I suspect it is one of the latter,” counters Dr. David Mattson, a former IGBST biologist, who is regarded as one of the world’s leading grizzly bear biologists.
“This is an example of how man has gone too far,” begins Chief Arvol Looking Horse. “All of us are being affected by this disrespect to Mother Earth, the Life force itself. We pray to the Bear Nation, the grizzly, they help us in ceremonies, and we need that spirit to help us now, to guide us into the future through our ceremonies, so that our children can have this dream and keep this traditional lifestyle going,” concludes the internationally respected spiritual leader, and head of GOAL’s Advisory Council.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.