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Environment
NCAI's Hall praises Senate passage of energy bill


The Senate voted 85 to 12 on Tuesday to approve a national energy policy bill that includes an Indian energy title aimed at helping tribes develop their lands.

National Congress of American Indians President Tex Hall said the measure will bring "immediate help" to Indian Country. “Americans Indians are one step closer today to economic independence because of the Senate’s passage of the energy policy act," he said in a statement.

"The National Congress of American Indians is pleased that the bill provides for a new Indian energy office in the Department of Energy, considerable new funding for tribal energy projects, and new guidelines that will speed up the development of those projects on Indian lands. The bill also provides strong incentives for federal facilities to purchase renewable energy produced on Indian lands," he said.

Despite the support, Hall said tribes are concerned about a section that requires the Interior and Energy departments to study Indian rights-of-way. He said the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association asked for the language in hopes of changing a law that currently requires tribal consent for rights-of-way on reservations.

The Indian title allows tribes, through energy resource regulations, to speed up development on their lands by limiting the involvement of the Interior Department. To address concerns that this might infringe on the trust relationship, the bill provides for extensive oversight and review by the department.

Unlike the House version of the bill, which passed in April, the Senate bill doesn't allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, Republicans hope to authorize drilling through a budget bill.

A joint House-Senate conference committee will convene to hammer out other differences.

Get the Story:
Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Energy Bill (The Washington Post 6/29)
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Senate Passes Bill That Strives to Balance Oil and Alternatives (The New York Times 6/29)
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Energy bill omits ANWR drilling (The Anchorage Daily News 6/29)
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Get the Bill:
Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R.6)

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