April 21, 2010

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing to Look at Ways to Abolish Roadblocks to Energy Production on Indian Lands

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee will conduct hearing at 2:15 PM, Thursday, April 22, to consider how to remove roadblocks to energy production on Indian lands, Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday. The hearing will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
“As our country searches for new energy production and opportunities to make it less dependent on foreign oil, a substantial amount of energy development is locked up on Indian lands by the cumbersome and bureaucratic process in the federal government to get permits and approvals,” Dorgan said. “We are determined to fix that and to unlock the opportunities for energy production on Indian reservations. The potential of Indian energy resources is vast. Indian lands make up less than 5% of land area in the United States, but it is estimated that about 10% of the Nation’s traditional and renewable energy resources are on Indian lands.”
In some cases, Dorgan noted, a single oil and gas lease must find its way through a bureaucratic 49-step process before oil and gas development can begin on Indian lands.
The problem is apparent at the Three Affiliated Tribes reservation in North Dakota, Dorgan noted, where hundreds of oil wells are in production to the north, south, and west of the Reservation, but a year ago, there were only 10 producing wells on the Reservation. After working to establish a “One Stop Shop” to streamline the leasing process, the number of producing wells has increased to 49, a nearly 5 fold increase in one year. “Clearly, this is an idea that works,” he said.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana has also been stymied by a variety of barriers as it seeks to develop its wind energy potential. The reservation has 1000 megawatts of wind generating capacity. Despite interest from energy company partners to develop utility-scale projects, uncertainty in the federal approval process and a lack of adequate transmission facilities have frozen efforts. He noted that clean energy jobs could be part of the solution to the reservation’s poverty rate of 34% and unemployment rates that are above 23%.
Details follow:
WHO: Senators: U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Chairman Byron Dorgan, (D-ND); Vice Chairman; John Barrasso (R-WY), and other members of the committee.
Witnesses: Joe Garcia, Southwest Area Vice President, National Congress of American Indians, Washington, DC; and Chairman, All Indian Pueblo Council, Albuquerque, NM; Matthew J. Box, Chairman, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ignacio, CO; Michael Marchand, Economic Development Committee Chairman, Energy Committee Member, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Portland, OR, and, Colville Business Council Omak District Representative, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Nespelem,Washington; Ralph Anderson, CEO, Bristol Bay Native Association; and, Co-Chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives Human Resources Committee, Dillingham, AK; and, Peter Stricker, Vice President – Strategic Asset Development, Clipper Wind, Inc., Carpinteria, CA;
WHAT: Legislative hearing on removing roadblocks to energy production on Indian lands
WHEN: 2:15 PM, Thursday, April 22, 2010
WHERE: 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
WHY: To consider how to abolish roadblocks to energy production on Indian lands.