Washington, D.C. – The House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act, legislation sponsored by Alaska Congressman Don Young to promote energy development on Indian and Alaska Native Corporation lands by reducing bureaucratic burdens, expediting, streamlining, and standardizing the process for obtaining appraisals and permits.
“H.R. 538 contains a number of measures proposed by tribes to reduce bureaucratic obstacles that hinder their efforts to develop energy and other natural resources on their lands,” said Congressman Don Young. “While this bill does not solve every problem a tribe faces, it is good start. It is based on the principle that tribes, not the federal government, are the best stewards of their lands.”
The legislation works to resolve longstanding resource and economic development issues for tribes, which have regularly encountered obstacles not found on private or state lands. By developing legislation to streamline permitting, deter frivolous lawsuits and prevent exorbitant federal permitting costs on tribal lands, Congressman Young hopes to increase opportunity for tribes to govern more aspects of energy development on their lands.
“The problem our tribes face is worse than ordinary bureaucratic delays,” Congressman Young said. “It is something worse: neglect. For unelected federal officials, the pay is always the same whether or not an Indian energy lease is approved on a timely basis.”
The federal government currently holds roughly 56 million acres of land into trust for the benefit of Indians. There are also 44 million acres of lands owned in fee by Alaska Native Corporations. These lands are estimated to hold more than 10% of the nation’s energy potential, yet tribes are far behind non-Indian landowners in terms of producing energy from their lands.
“H.R. 538 brings much needed relief to Indian tribes and Alaska Native Corporations through measures they’ve proposed,” said Congressman Young. “The bill streamlines appraisals of Indian lands and standardizes the Interior Department’s process of tracking mineral activities on Indian lands.”
Washington, D.C. – Two bills cosponsored by Alaska Congressman Don Young were considered this week in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Coast Guard Subcommittee – one to update the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 as it relates to foreign spills, another to establish a funding process for the alteration, renovation, lease or charter of a U.S. built icebreaker.
Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2015:
H.R. 1684, the Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2015, would ensure that the responsible party, regardless of origin, pays for ALL American cleanup costs associated with an oil spill. Under current law, spills occurring in U.S. waters must be paid for in full by the responsible party. However, foreign oil spills reaching U.S. waters are paid for through the Oil Liability Trust Fund, which covers $150 million for clean up and up to $850 million for claims.
“Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which revealed the lack of federal funding available at the time to respond to oil spills, Congress passed the Oil Protection Act to develop the laws currently governing damage payments, oil spill prevention and response,” said Congressman Don Young. “I was proud to serve a key role in advancing that legislation and stand ready to push commonsense reforms to hold foreign entities accountable for their actions in our waters. This legislation is increasingly important as maritime activity near Alaska increases. For example, if a vessel transporting oil in Russian waters suffers a spill, ocean currents may very well bring that oil into Alaska’s waters and shores. H.R. 1684 would force the responsible party to pay for the costs associated with clean up.”
Under this bill, operators responsible for a spill reaching U.S. waters would pay for all costs associated with cleanup. Those refusing, or denying guilt, would face significant civil penalties imposed by the U.S. Attorney General in the appropriate district court.
National Icebreaker Fund Act of 2015:
The National Icebreaker Fund Act of 2015 would establish an alternative funding process for building a new icebreaker, renovating an existing icebreaker, or leasing private icebreakers. The National Icebreaker Fund would be eligible for funds from a variety of sources, including Congressional appropriations, receipts from selling an ice breaker, fund transfers from other agencies, and non-federal contributions.
“During my time in Congress and on the House Transportation of Infrastructure Committee, I have seen firsthand the hurdles we face in trying to expand our icebreaker fleet,” said Congressman Don Young. “Every year, our ice breaking needs grow, as does the cost to build a new icebreaker or renovate an existing one. Under this proposal, the National Icebreaker Fund would allow the Coast Guard to use funds to renovate its existing polar icebreakers, acquire a new one, or lease such a vessel from a private owner. The benefits of this approach would be that Congress could build the Fund up over years rather than trying to appropriate the significant overall costs of a new icebreaker in a single year.”
Washington, D.C. – Two bills introduced by Alaska Congressman Don Young received congressional action in the House Natural Resources Committee this week, including one to provide Alaska Native Vietnam veterans an opportunity to select their native allotment if they missed the opportunity to do so during their service and another to transfer 23 acres in Bethel to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC).
Wednesday, Congressman Young chaired a legislative hearing on H.R. 2387, the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act, in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (IIANA) to discuss legislation that would allow approximately 2,800 Alaska Natives who served in Vietnam, and missed an earlier opportunity because of that service, to apply for their Native allotment.
“I introduced this bill last month to provide equitable treatment to Alaska Native Vietnam veterans who did not receive a satisfactory 160 acres allotment of land as promised under the 1906 Alaska Native Allotment Act,” Congressman Don Young said yesterday. “The passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971 ended the process of land allotment to individual Alaska Natives. However, many Alaska Natives who were out of the country serving during the Vietnam War did not have an opportunity to receive their allotment. Congress must fulfill the promise to these Native veterans so that this final chapter can be closed.”
Nelson Angapak, Senior Vice President for the Alaska Federation of Natives and a veteran himself, testified before the Subcommittee in favor of H.R. 2387, saying:
“It is with urgency that we are asking Congress to pass this bill during the [114th] Congress so that there will be equitable treatment of our veterans who served during the whole Vietnam era,” Angapak said. “Again, it is with urgency. Our veterans are dying off. Some of our friends are no longer with us and some are dying, that is why we have the urgent request that you pass this bill.
Towards the end of the IIANA hearing, Congressman Young questioned Bureau of Land Management officials on the specific reasons preventing Alaska Native Vietnam veterans from receiving their 160 acre native land allotment.
“These veterans deserve that land, that’s the whole intent of this bill…,” said Congressman Young. “Why is the Department of Interior so intent in not allowing these veterans to have their land? What’s the big hang up? If it stays in trust, mineral deposits stay in your ownership; this is their cultural land, why can’t you let them have their land?”
The second Young bill addressed by the House Natural Resources Committee was H.R. 521, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation Land Transfer Act, which the committee unanimously passed today. The legislation would provide a 23 acre land transfer of federal lands in Bethel, Alaska to YKHC for the expansion and improvement of existing health and social programs.
“This commonsense legislation will allow YKHC to significantly grow their operations in the coming years and improve the health and well-being of countless Alaska Natives in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region,” said Congressman Don Young.“Unfortunately, it takes an Act of Congress to complete this needed land transfer, but I’m happy to dig in and do what’s right for the Alaskan people.”
YKHC is a non-profit Alaska Native organization that provides health care services to 11 villages through a self-governance compact with the Indian Health Service (IHS). YKHC’s regional hospital in Bethel operates on 23 acres of land which belongs to the IHS.
The hospital has seen an increase in patient visits in recent years, which has led to a strain on the 30 year old hospital. YKHC plans to build a 130,000 square foot primary care clinic attached to its existing hospital to meet demand in the coming years. In order to finance the expansion, valued at $250 million, YKHC applied for the IHS competitive Joint Venture Construction Program. YKHC’s Participation in the Joint Venture Program requires YKHC’s ownership of the 23 acre parcel of land.
Although both the YKHC and the Department of Health and Human Services are supportive of the land transfer, Congressional action is necessary to convey the federal property.
Congressman Young introduced similar legislation to H.R. 521 during the the 113th Congress.
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!