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Crow Tribe supports legislation to make coal tax credit permanent

Chairman Alvin Not Afraid, Jr. of the Crow Tribe. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is once again seeking to extend the Indian Coal Production Credit to spur economic development on and near reservations.

The tax credit gives a break to companies that do business in Indian Country. It expired at the end of 2016 after lawmakers secured a two-year extension back in 2014.

Supporters in Congress don't want to have to keep asking for extensions. So they introduced S.975 on April 27 to make the tax credit permanent.

“Indian Coal production creates good-paying jobs in Indian Country, generates significant non-federal tax revenue to support essential services, and enables tribal self-determination.” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana), the sponsor of the bill, said in a press release.

“The Indian Coal Production Tax Credit helps create good jobs and increases self-determination in Indian Country,” added Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), a co-sponsor of S.975. “Incentivizing more responsible natural resource development on tribal lands will create high-paying jobs, strengthen tribal sovereignty and help produce more revenue for local schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure.”

The measure has the support of the Crow Tribe. Chairman Alvin Not Afraid, Jr. said the tax credit will boost development of his people's natural resources in Montana.

"The credit helps level the playing field for Indian coal, and a permanent extension will allow our industry partners to make the large investments necessary for further development of our extensive Crow coal resources," Not Afraid said in the press release. "We look forward to the Congress' favorable consideration of this much-needed relief."

The Crows are one of the few coal-producing tribes in the nation. Coal development brings revenues to the tribal government and puts tribal citizens to work.

In addition to Daines and Tester, the other co-sponsors of S.975 are Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota).

“When tribes have the proper encouragement and support to ramp up the coal producing projects that can grow jobs and help support their local economy, that’s good for Indian Country, our economy, and our nation’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Heitkamp said in a press release.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

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Tribes with coal resources look to Trump administration for change (April 3, 2017)