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The Indian Energy Promotion and Parity Act of 2010: Opportunities For Renewable Energy Projects in Indian Country

Kelly de la Torre, Robert S. Thompson III, Natural Resources Development on Indian Lands (2011)

As a result of the location and relocation policies of the United States, and the fact that non-Indian homesteaders were less than enamored by the reservation lands granted to Indian tribes, Indian tribes now possess substantial hydropower, wind, geothermal, solar and other renewable energy potential. However, development of these renewable resources lags far behind the progress made on non-tribal lands, due primarily to cumbersome procedures, additional regulatory requirements and policy challenges attending the development of tribal resources.

These challenges exist despite efforts on the part of the Division of Indian Energy Policy Development, an office of the Department of Interior (“Interior”) under the direct supervisory authority of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, and enactment of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act of 2005 (“Energy Policy Act”);1 the latter being intended to empower tribal energy development. While the Energy Policy Act directs Interior and the Department of Energy (“Energy”) to provide assistance and incentives to facilitate energy development on tribal lands,2 three major challenges have been identified and described in a concept paper distributed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs entitled, Draft Indian Energy Concepts Paper (“SCIA Paper”), these being:3

1. Difficulty in obtaining fin