WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2017 - The House Committee on Natural Resources has approved H.R. 210, which promotes energy development by Indian tribes and Alaska Native Corporations. The “Native American Energy Act,” introduced by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, addresses the federal government’s overregulation of Indian lands.
“The bill contains a number of policy improvements to reduce the hurdles and obstacles for energy and resource development imposed by the federal government, while empowering Native communities to better manage and develop their lands,” Young said. “This legislation contains important permitting and judicial review provisions for tribes and Alaska Native corporations that work to eliminate attacks by outside special interest groups. Overall, this bill is based on the principle that Native communities, not the federal government or special interests, are the best stewards of Native lands.”
The act seeks to amend the Energy Policy Act by allowing affected Indian tribes to complete valuation assessments themselves or waive appraisal altogether. H.R. 210 would amend the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by imposing a 60-day time limit for complaints to be filed. Amendments to the Tribal Forest Protection Act expand upon Native Americans’ biomass production capabilities. The Native American Energy Act would extend leases on land used for energy purposes by amending the Long Term Leasing Act.
“This bill turns the page on the federal government’s culture of paternalism and empowers Indian tribes and Alaska Natives to develop their own natural resources,” said Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah. “Thankfully, as this bill moves through the legislative process, less time will need to be spent educating the executive branch on the virtues of responsible energy development, and more can be spent finalizing this package with the Senate.”
Young previously proposed the Native American Energy Act in the 2015-2016 session under H.R. 538, at which time it was met with opposition from environmental groups like the National Parks Conservation Association. The NPCA claimed the “bill would insulate energy projects on tribal lands from judicial review by restricting the amount of time to file claims and by making the pursuit of a legal challenge far too expensive for the average citizens.”
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