Ryan Dreveskracht has published "Alternative Energy in American Indian Country: Catering to Both Sides of the Coin," in the latest edition of Energy Law Journal.
Given the bipartisan Congressional support for tribal energy development in Indian country, one would assume that tribal governments and their citizens would be playing a large role in making this come to fruition. But, as noted by Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), “[o]ur existing laws are falling short of fully enabling tribes to develop their natural resources.”
Has anyone stopped to ask, though, whether tribal governments and their citizens even want to develop alternative energies on their lands? A peripheral reading of recent media accounts would suggest that tribes throughout the Nation are voicing active opposition to alternative energy projects.
This article looks at both sides of the renewable energy “coin” in relation to American Indian country. On the one side, at least according to some recent media depictions, it appears that tribal governments and their citizens are adamantly opposed to any energy development on their lands. All told, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Section A of this article will explain that tribes merely seek a seat at the table when decisions are made regarding developments that will adversely affect their lands or areas of cultural significance, and why this is important. Indeed, contrary to being opposed to alternative energy development, Tribes are very actively seeking to develop their lands, and to do so in a manner that is consistent with their cultures and traditions. But, large-scale alternative energy projects are virtually absent from Indian country. Thus, Section B of this article will discuss what is hindering these projects from coming to fruition. Finally, Section C of the article will discuss what Congress is – and is not – doing regarding the two sides of the coin.
Ryan Dreveskracht is an Associate at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian majority-owned law firm. His practice focuses on representing businesses and tribal governments in public affairs, energy, gaming, taxation, and general economic development. He can be reached at 206.909.3842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.