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Native American Energy Act Would Streamline Native American Energy Projects

The U.S. House is considering a bill from Representative Don Young that would expedite energy projects on Native American lands in Alaska and the lower 48. The Native American Energy Act makes a few big changes in the ways that tribal groups go about conducting energy projects on their lands.  The bill’s sponsor, Alaska Representative Don Young says the bill applies to ANCSA lands, but is targeted more for projects on reservations in the lower 48, where he says the regulatory process is too slow.

"They own 15% of the nations' energy. Yet they can't do anything.  They have poverty you cannot believe because  the government won't let them do things.  I think that's inappropriate.   I've said, all the government wants to do is give them a side of beef and a blanket, pat them on the head and say go home.  That's not right.  I want to make this more expedited process for them to make decision.  It doesn't mean they have any lower standards, but the slowness of our permitting process is killing them," said Young.

The bill prohibits the secretary of the interior from collecting a fee on permits to drill on tribal lands or on any non-producing leases. It revamps the public comment process for large federal projects. Environmental impact statements would be available for review and comment only to the affected Indian tribe and people living nearby.

"That's it should be.  We don't have public input in China or some foreign country.  Why should anyone in New York have any right to say anything about tribal land in Alaska or any other tribe?  And yet there's interest groups who say we can't do that.  That's not the way the government should work, that not the way we have what we call self  government.  We gave this to American Indians and Alaska Natives, and no one wants to pay any attention to  it," said Young.

The bill prevents the interior department’s fracing rules from impacting restricted or trust land without the permission of tribes.  It directs the secretary to advance biomass projects on federal lands.  It also calls for the   Navajo Nation to enter into mineral resource leases on restricted lands without the Secretary's approval.

The bill passed the House resources committee and will be considered next by the full House.