WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), praised the Senate’s passage of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendment, as part of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S.2012. This national energy bill passed the full Senate by a vote of 85 to 12.
The bipartisan Indian energy amendment was originally co-sponsored by Chairman Barrasso and Vice Chairman Tester (D-MT). The broader energy bill was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The Indian energy amendment will give Indian tribes more tools to develop energy resources and remove unnecessary barriers to economic development in Indian Country. The text is the same as Senate bill S. 209, which was also introduced by Barrasso and Tester and passed the full Senate on Dec. 10, 2015 by unanimous consent.
“The Senate passed legislation that will help foster economic development in tribal communities across the country,” said Chairman Barrasso. “Breaking down barriers to tribal energy development will help create good-paying jobs for tribal members. It will also contribute to the country’s energy security by developing more American-made energy. I urge the House to take up these energy measures to get them signed into law this year.”
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included Title V for Indian energy to deal with the delays and uncertainties inherent in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ energy-leasing process. It will provide Indian tribes with an alternate way of developing energy resources.
The amendment (and S.209) also addresses several aspects of Indian energy development, including a “biomass demonstration project” for energy production from Indian forest lands, rangelands and other federal lands in accordance with requirements developed by the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture after consultation with tribes. It would facilitate the development of biomass projects by providing tribes with access to more reliable and potentially long-term supplies of woody biomass materials. It will also streamline the process for approving tribal energy resource agreements.
Senator Barrasso originally introduced the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments in 2011. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Feb. 4, 2015, and passed the full Senate on Dec. 10, 2015.