Dean Suagee: Part two of the tribal green revolution
"A green energy revolution is beginning to happen in America. If President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are successful in enacting legislation to address the climate crisis, the progress of the green energy revolution will pick up speed (depending, of course, on the details).

In part one, I said we need to have some serious discussion of appropriate roles of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments as sovereign partners in shaping the governmental policies that will make the green energy revolution happen.

In addition to issues relating to the power of tribes to make laws, there is also the matter of federal assistance programs for non-federal governmental entities. Over the last several decades, the federal government has created assistance programs for states and local governments to promote energy efficiency, and tribal governments have often been overlooked. Not always. For example, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program for states and tribes, with a two percent set-aside for tribes, and this program has actually been funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That’s $56 million for tribes. There are many other provisions of the Recovery Act that tribes can use for energy efficiency and renewables, but the act also pours a lot of funding into programs for states and local governments for which tribes are not explicitly eligible. For some programs, tribes are eligible, but it will take some work to actually get a share of the funding. I wonder how much of the $5 billion appropriated for the weatherization program is going to reach Indian country.

The pattern of providing federal assistance to state and local governments without working through the implications for Indian country may play out again in climate change-energy policy legislation under consideration in the current session of Congress. In January, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released a set of “Principles for Global Warming Legislation.” The release prompted a group of dedicated people convened by the National Congress of American Indians to develop a set of “Tribal Principles for Climate Legislation,” endorsed by NCAI and the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund and National Wildlife Federation."

Get the Story:
Dean Suagee: Tribal sovereignty and the green energy revolution (Indian Country Today 5/12)

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Dean Suagee: Tribes and the green energy revolution (5/4)