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Energy Development on Indian Lands Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005

Scot W. Anderson, The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (2005)

Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 concerns Indian energy. 1 The short title of Title V is “Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act of 2005.” 2 Congress, in choosing this short title, expressed the twin goals of Title V: to encourage the efficient development of energy minerals on tribal lands and to promote tribal self-determination, at least in the context of energy development. These two goals are not mutually exclusive, although neither are they co-extensive. The heart of Title V of the Energy Policy Act--the use of tribal energy resource agreements--provides a real opportunity to achieve both goals.

The Importance of the Indian Mineral Estate

On March 19, 2003, the Committee on Indian Affairs of the United States Senate held a hearing on the proposed tribal energy legislation. 3 In his opening remarks, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, then the Chairman of the Committee, noted the importance of the tribal energy mineral estate: “Indian-owned energy resources are still largely undeveloped: 1.81 million acres are being explored or in production. 15 million more acres of energy resources are undeveloped. There are 90 tribes that own significant energy resources--both renewable and non-renewable--and they want to develop them.” 4 The Department of the Interior, testifying at the same hearing, noted that production from tribal land con