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Rural and Native Alaska discussed at national tribal conference in DC

Department of Energy

US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz spoke about Alaska's energy prospects and accomplishments at White House Tribal Nations Conference.

Wednesday was the White House Tribal Nations Conference.  Representatives from over 500 federally-recognized Native nations participated along with President Obama, Cabinet Officials and the Council on Native American Affairs. The conference touched on many subjects including climate change.  KDLG’sThea Card reports.

Although the focus of the White House Tribal Nations Conference was national, Alaska was mentioned and praised several times throughout the panel discussion on energy and climate change.  US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said he believes the Department of Energy needs to create efficient, environmentally friendly and affordable ways to create energy for rural Alaska.

“At the Department of Energy one of our special roles clearly is to work on developing, demonstrating and deploying the energy technologies that we will need to address climate change but also to address the economic needs of tribal lands and frankly across the country and across the world. We know that often we see in our tribal lands and certainly in our Alaskan Native communities tremendously high prices for energy so there’s also an important economic advantage in addressing these technologies.”

The Department of Energy’s office of Indian Energy recently announced a new round of competition for the Alaska Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team Program, or Alaska START.  This program aims to support development of clean energy, capacity building and affordable energy planning efforts for rural Alaska Native villages and corporations.

Moniz spoke in favor of programs like the Alaska START. 

“Since its start in 2011 the program has helped 11 Alaska Native communities advancing clean energy technology and infrastructure projects. So this third round of assistance again will add to that, again increasing resiliency, local generation capacity and energy efficiency and also creating local job opportunities.”

He went on to say that as the US prepares to become the chair of the Arctic Council, Alaska has been preparing as well.

“And our Indian Energy Program, for example, just did seven consultations with Alaska Tribal Leaders, governments and corporations. This is the kind of outreach that we need more of not only in this program but across the board.”

This was the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference.  

Credit Department of Energy