Keystone Policy Center Convenes Summit on Energy Development Near Tribal Lands

Panelists who participated in Keystone Policy Center’s tribes/energy summit included (from left to right): Troy Eid, Greenberg Taurus LLP American Indian Law Practice Group; Ernest House, Keystone Policy Center American Indian Alaska Native Program; Elia Quintana, American Petroleum Institute; John Echohawk, Native American Rights Fund; Adam Red, Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Keystone Policy Center convened a summit of tribal and business leaders September 5 in Tulalip, Washington, to discuss the different ways these leaders can address legal jurisdictions and governing decisions related to energy development on or adjacent to tribal land. The current energy development landscape in the United States is shifting to tap into new sources of energy – from renewables to natural gas – and to replace aging infrastructure. These shifts are creating new tensions among industry and land managers, including Native American Tribes. Ongoing siting and development decisions are made where tribal interests and sovereignty are either unknown or misunderstood, or tribes are not made aware of industry considerations until well into the planning, siting and permitting processes. In this dynamic energy landscape, tribes also have opportunities to harness their own energy resources, develop energy-related technology, or otherwise pursue economic development in the energy sector.

The summit in Washington explored what opportunities are available for industry and tribes to engage more effectively and what structure or environment is needed, or can be created, to support proactive dialogue. Attendees are interested in Keystone hosting additional regional meetings and ultimately producing resources and tools for both tribes and energy companies (e.g. training for tribal liaisons; education for tribal leaders on energy issues; sample agreements or codes for tribes).

The summit was developed after analyzing the current interest and work that is occurring in this area and was the culmination of interviews and additional research conducted by Keystone Policy Center to home in on the most important aspects for discussion.