In May, the First Government-to-Government Consultation between the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, Venetie Village Council, Arctic Village Council and the Department of Interior (DOI) was held in Arctic Village.
The meeting focused on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the impacts that opening it up to oil and gas production will have. Since the passage of last year’s Tax act, the DOI is leading the federal effort to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As a part of the EIS process, the DOI will host additional Government-to-Government Consultations and public scoping hearings.
Those in attendance included Chief/Chairman Victor Joseph, Vice President Julie Roberts-Hyslop, 1st Chief of Gwichyaa Zhee and Yukon Flats Subregional Representative Nancy James, and Emerging Leader Julia Fisher-Salmon.
Throughout the meeting, Chiefs and tribal members expressed to DOI their opposition to oil and gas leasing at the porcupine caribou birthing grounds. Other issues raised by Tribal officials included: the potential impacts to the health and wellbeing of all Gwich’in people, protection for porcupine caribou habitat, and conservation of other subsistence resources such as waterfowl and fish. All Tribal representatives made clear to the DOI officials that the Gwich’in people remain united on the issue of protecting the birthing grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.
Numerous Tribes and organizations have submitted requests for an extension of the scoping period and to schedule additional scoping hearings in other villages that will be impacted by the proposal. The Tribes believe such an extension is critically necessary to ensure any EIS document has the appropriate data and information to adequately guide future decisions.