Aiming to increase energy development by Alaska Native Corporations and American's tribes, the House Natural Resources Committee today passed Alaskan Congressman Don Young's legislation, H.R. 3973, the Native American Energy Act. Comprised of various measures requested by tribes across the country, this legislation will increase tribal control over energy development on their lands by eliminating red tape and reducing the bureaucratic burden on tribes. The measure passed by voice vote.
"This bill is a direct response to what America's tribes and Alaska Natives have been asking for," said Rep. Young. "After having met with tribal leaders from across the country, the thing I hear most often when it comes to tribal energy development is less federal government and more tribal control. The Native American Energy Act is critically important to Native Americans because it encourages tribal energy development which will be a huge step towards self determination for America's tribes. Today was an important first step for this bill and I look forward to seeing this bill pass the House."
During today's mark-up, Rep. Young successfully passed an amendment by voice vote dealing with the recently announced Department of Interior rule dealing with hydraulic fracturing on Indian lands. Specifically, the amendment would prohibit the Interior rule from applying to Indian lands unless the Indian owner of such land gives their express consent. To view video of Rep. Young speaking in support of his amendment, click here.
"With their new fracking rule, the Obama Administration is doing a real disservice to America's tribes," said Rep. Young. "By giving Indian tribes the option to follow this new rule, my amendment simply increases tribal control over their lands and eliminates this new layer of bureaucratic red-tape."
Important to tribes across the country, H.R. 3973 reduces the threat of frivolous lawsuits brought by those seeking to block energy development on Indian or Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) land. This bill will start holding plaintiffs, rather than defendants, liable when the plaintiff succeeds in delaying a project through preliminary injunctions or administrative stays, but ultimately fails on the merits of the case. Additionally, a plaintiff would be required to post a bond representing 30% of the amount adequate to pay compensation.
"Too often, lawsuits are used by those who oppose energy development as a tool to block a project from going forward," Rep. Young continued. "The Native American Energy Act holds accountable those who abuse the legal system to further their anti-development agenda."
Other important provisions included in H.R. 3973 are:
Encourages private investment on Indian lands by prohibiting the collection of application fees by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for permits to drill on Indian land, to conduct any oil or gas inspection activity on Indian land, and on any oil or gas lease for nonproducing acreage on Indian land.
Prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to pay costs and fees of those who file legal actions against energy development benefiting Native Americans.
Directs the Secretary of the Interior to standardize the way in which the Department of Interior tracks oil and gas activities on Indian lands.