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Tribes negotiating better deals for use of lands on reservations

Tribes are negotiating better deals for the use of their lands but energy companies and other interests aren't happy about it.

San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico allowed Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative to use its lands for power lines. The tribe only received $114,000 when the deal was signed in the 1980s.

The tribe received $4.7 million under a new agreement that was finalized in February, The Wall Street Journal reported. The change drew complaints from the utility.

"There is nobody regulating how much can be negotiated and what is fair," John Tapia, the chairman of utility, told the Journal.

In 2005, energy interests asked Congress to change federal law in order to allow rights-of-way agreements to be approved without tribal consent. The approach was rejected in a study that was issued by the Interior Department and the Energy Department in 2007.

Get the Story:
Indian Tribes' New Negotiating Power Costs Utilities (The Wall Street Journal 4/29)

2007 Rights of Way Report:
Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 1813 Indian Land Rights-of-Way Study (May 2007)

Related Stories:
Report maintains status quo on Indian rights-of-way (5/16)