Southern Ute Indian Tribe joins international natural gas initiative

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe joined an international natural gas export initiative this month. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file) The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has joined a Western natural gas initiative as a way to advance tribal self-determination.

The tribe is the newest member of the Western States and Tribal Nations Natural Gas Initiative, which takes liquid natural gas from the West and exports it to countries shifting toward lower-emitting fuel sources. It casts itself as an economic development opportunity for rural and tribal communities.

“The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has a strong and successful legacy in energy and economic development,” said Melvin Baker, Southern Ute tribal chairman, in a news release. “The tribe understands the benefit of strong business and intergovernmental relationships to strengthen its self-determination and sovereignty.”

The natural gas initiative tries to address two global environmental problems at once by connecting stranded natural gas resources that are often flared off in North America to global markets, like many in Asia, that need more secure access to cleaner fuel choices.

The international initiative has 24 member organizations, including energy companies, four counties on the Western Slope, Utah, New Mexico and Baja California, Mexico. Two other tribes are involved in the initiative, the Ute Indian Tribe in northern Utah and BlackHawk Energy, a wholly owned Section 17 Federal Corporation of the sovereign Jicarilla Apache Nation.

The Ute Indian Tribe co-founded the initiative. Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the Ute Tribal Business Committee, said the initiative aims to attract more Native American members to advance tribal […]

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