Havre Daily News
The Chippewa Cree tribal council is working on developing an energy company to earn more money from its resources and keep the profits local. The tribe now leases its land to gas companies for exploration and development. The gas companies keeps the bulk of the profits from the wells and the tribe gets a royalty.
The tribe's idea is to become not only the owner of the land but also operator and developer, tribal attorney Dan Belcourt said. Chippewa Cree Tribal Energy would hire drillers to produce the gas wells and will keep a much larger portion of the profits.
Belcourt said the tribe wants to exert more authority over its resources.
“We want to be the company, the developer, the whole nine yards,” Belcourt said.
He added that the company is still in the planning stage.
Tony Belcourt, director of Chippewa Cree Tribal Energy and former tribal council member, said tribal leaders want to provide natural gas to an ethanol plant planned by the tribe.
“Basically, that's what Chippewa Cree Tribal Energy would be doing is supplying the plant with gas,” he said Tuesday.
Dan Belcourt said the tribe has met with state officials about a possible revenue-sharing agreement on gas and oil taxes.
Tony Belcourt said the tribe might enter in an agreement similar to the tobacco tax revenue-sharing formula signed by the council this year.
He said the negotiation process has just begun and more research needs to be done.
“If we own the company, taxes would not be applicable to the tribe and we can retain more money,” Dan Belcourt said.
He said tribal leaders are discussing different options involved with the new company, including whether to bring it under the Chippewa Cree Community Development Corp. or have the company stand alone.