Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved S. 245, the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017 (the Bill), which is designed to allow Native American tribes to take greater control over energy development on their lands and to reduce the amount of governmental red tape.
The Bill, which was passed by the Senate in November 2017, directs the Department of Interior to provide tribes with technical assistance in planning their energy resource development programs. Further, the Bill expands the Department of Energy’s Indian energy education planning and management assistance program to make intertribal organizations eligible for grants and to allow grants to be used to increase the capacity of tribes to manage energy development and energy efficiency programs.
The Bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, stated: “This legislation empowers tribes to manage their own energy resources, cuts red tape, drives economic growth and promotes energy development for Indian Country.”
Hoeven particularly touted the Bill’s provisions to help tribes reach Tribal Energy Resource Agreements, or TERAs, with the Interior Department. “TERAs facilitate more tribal control by authorizing tribal contracts, leases, and rights-of-ways for energy development without unnecessary, cumbersome federal bureaucracy,” Hoeven said in a statement. “The bill will help level the playing field for tribes so that they can participate, if they choose, in the booming energy market.”
The Bill now awaits President Trump’s signature to be made a law.