Opinion: Energy jobs can create opportunities in Indian Country
"American Indian and Alaska Natives represent 4.9 million of the U.S. population. One out of four Native Americans live below the poverty line. Indian country also records the highest unemployment rate nationally. A recent Economic Policy Institute study found that from the first half of 2007 to the first half of 2010, the unemployment rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives increased from 7.7 percent to a staggering 15.2 percent – compared to the 9.6 percent national unemployment rate.

Yet, there is great potential to put people to work in Indian country.

Ten percent of the nation’s traditional and clean energy resources are located on tribal lands. Native communities hold 55.7 million acres of land, or approximately five percent of the U.S. land base.

The U.S. Department of the Interior reports that tribal lands have an estimated 535 billion kilowatt hours per year of wind power and 17,000 billion kWh/year of solar electricity generation potential.

A single Indian tribe in Montana is estimated to have 20,000 megawatts of wind power, sufficient energy to heat and light two million American homes. Reservations in the Great Plains have a combined wind power potential exceeding 300 gigawatts at full wind, or half the entire installed electrical generation capacity in the United States.

Considering future demand for greater domestic use of energy resources, green jobs for American Indian and Alaska Natives have the potential to significantly decrease poverty in tribal communities."

Get the Story:
Marion Desmurger: Tribal energy an opportunity not to be missed (Indian Country Today 12/3)