Congress Passes Bill Promoting Energy Development on Tribal Lands

Dec 12, 2018

An updated version of a bill that promotes energy development in Indian Country is heading to President Trump’s desk. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it allows tribes more flexibility in managing oil, gas and other projects. 

An oil derrick on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, Utah.
Credit photorator.com

The Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments would reduce federal regulation on contracts and leases on reservations. It also directs the Interior and Energy departments to help tribes with technical assistance, planning and management.

The bill, approved by the U.S. House Monday, would allow the Navajo Nation to manage mineral leases for 75 years without review from the Interior Secretary. The Bureau of Indian Affairs currently approves all energy development projects on tribal lands.

It comes as Navajo officials look to broaden the tribe’s energy portfolio ahead of the planned 2019 closure of the Navajo Generating Station. Coal royalties from the Kayenta Mine that supplies the plant account for up to 30 percent of Navajo government revenue.