INGAA Comments on DOI Policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes

In comments addressing a proposed policy on consultation with Indian tribes, INGAA asked DOI to authorize early and active member participation in tribal consultation over pipeline construction. DOI would allow project applicants to initiate tribal consultations, which are required under the National Historic Preservation Act. DOI would also authorize project applicants to negotiate with tribes about pipeline routing, construction monitoring and other project details.

INGAA argued that early and active participation by project applicants sped the exchange of project information, so tribal concerns could be addressed quicker and more fully. While acknowledging that the historic preservation act specifically requires DOI to consult “government-to-government” with the tribes, INGAA demonstrated that early participation by project applicants did not undercut but actually enhanced government-to-government consultation.

INGAA also urged DOI to coordinate its project review procedures with those conducted by other federal agencies, notably FERC. Absent coordination, pipelines and tribes have both been required to respond to multiple, redundant requests by individual agencies for the same information.

INGAA closed its comments by asking DOI to establish standards to determine which tribes should be invited to participate in consultation, and when a tribe loses its right to consultation through its failure to respond to invitations to consult.