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.”