January 22, 2015

Chairman Barrasso Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Break Down Barriers to Energy Development in Indian Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Jon Tester (D-MT), Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, re-introduced the bipartisan Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015 (S. 209). The bill will give Indian tribes more tools to develop their energy resources and to remove unnecessary barriers to economic development.
“As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I’m committed to creating new jobs and economic opportunities in Indian Country. One of the best ways to do this is to give Indian tribes greater control of the management and development of their energy resources,” said Chairman Barrasso.  “For years, Indian tribes have expressed concerns about federal laws and regulations regarding energy development.  My bill will help jumpstart tribal energy and economic development by streamlining the approval process and reducing regulatory red-tape. This will give folks in Indian Country the tools they need to increase our nation’s energy security while creating good paying jobs in their communities.”
“This bill puts tribes back in control of their energy resources and opens new opportunities for renewable energy,” said Vice Chairman Tester. “Streamlining bureaucratic red tape can unleash the potential for tribes to build sustainable, self-governed energy programs that can serve their people and communities.  The steps that took tribes years to navigate would only take a few months under this bill, allowing tribes more time to focus on creating a better, energy efficient future.”
In addition to Senators Barrasso and Tester, the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015 is co-sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), John McCain (R-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Deb Fischer (R-NE).
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. Title V was intended to provide Indian tribes with an alternative way to develop their energy resources.
The Barrasso bill includes a number of amendments to the process established in 2005.  His legislation cuts red tape and makes it easier for Indian tribes to develop their own resources. The bill also streamlines the process for approving “tribal energy resource agreements” (TERAs) and make the TERA approval process more predictable for Indian tribes.
The bill addresses other aspects of Indian 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. The bill would facilitate the development of tribal biomass projects by providing Indian tribes with access to more reliable and potentially long-term supplies of woody biomass materials.
Senator Barrasso originally introduced the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2011 on October 12, 2011.