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Cayuga Nation accuses Union Springs schools of unlawful gas extraction

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  • Staff Report 

The Cayuga Nation has accused the Union Springs Central School District of illegally extracting over $100,000 worth of natural gas annually from a well on their property without payment. The nation, which owns the land and well, stated that the district has ignored multiple requests over the years to resolve the issue amicably. The conflict escalated recently when the school district refused a proposal from the Cayuga Nation to allow temporary access to the gas for a minimal fee, instead demanding a substantial payment to disconnect from the well.

The disputed gas well is located on a parcel of land purchased by the Cayuga Nation nearly two decades ago, which also houses their Lakeside Entertainment gaming facility. The U.S. Department of the Interior reaffirmed the nation’s ownership in March 2023, officially recognizing the land as federal trust territory. Despite this, the school district has continued to claim rights to the gas, a stance the Cayuga Nation deems unsupported by legal documents.

Clint Halftown, the Nation’s Federal Representative, expressed frustration over the ongoing dispute, highlighting a history of exploitation of the Cayuga people’s resources. The Nation has offered the district a generous temporary arrangement to use the gas until spring 2024 for $1,000 per month, but the district’s counteroffer has led to a stalemate. The Cayuga Nation remains determined to defend its rights and manage the well in the best interest of its people, with support from federal authorities.