Indian Tribal Energy Bill reported out of Senate Indian Affairs Committee

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)

The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso and cosponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi

(Washington, D.C.) –  Wyoming’s Junior U.S. Senator John Barrasso this week praised the Senate Indian Affairs Committee’s passage Thursday of the “Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2012 (S. 1684).

“Today, bipartisan members of the Indian Affairs Committee voted to help break down barriers to energy development in Indian Country,” said Barrasso.  “In Indian Country, energy development means jobs. For far too long, bureaucratic red tape has prevented the pursuit of tribal economic development opportunities, especially energy development.  This legislation will reverse that trend by removing road blocks and streamlining the process under current law.”

Background on S. 1684:

Senator Barrasso introduced the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2012 (S. 1684) on October 12, 2011.  It is co-sponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Hoeven (R-ND), John McCain (R-AZ) and John Thune (R-SD).

On April 19, 2012, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on S. 1684.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included an Indian Energy title—Title V.  Title V was enacted to deal with the delays and uncertainties that are inherent in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ energy leasing process. This bill provided Indian tribes with an alternative way to develop their energy resources.

More than 6 years after the enactment of this legislation, it appears that no tribe has yet availed itself of the new energy development process.

S. 1684 includes a number of amendments to the process established in 2005.  Senator Barrasso’s amendments will cut red tape and make it easier for the Indian tribes to develop their own resources.

The bill addresses other aspects of Indian tribal energy development, including a “biomass demonstration project” for biomass energy production from Indian forest lands, rangelands and other Federal lands in accordance with program requirements developed by the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture after consultation with Indian tribes. This amendment would facilitate the development of tribal biomass projects by providing them with more reliable and potentially long-term supplies of woody biomass materials.