The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Supporting and Providing Additional Detail for New Bureau of Indian Affairs Regional Office to Serve Energy Producing Tribes
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, several Tribes located in the Phoenix Region, the Rocky Mountain Region, the Great Plains Region and the Southwest Region, as well as the Alaska Native communities, and are energy producing tribes or among those tribes with potential for energy production that rely or might rely in the future on mineral revenue income for infrastructure, economic development, jobs and income from the development of their mineral resources; and
WHEREAS, at the 2013 Annual Session of NCAI held at Cox Business Center from October 13 to 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present, the General Assembly adopted Resolution #TUL-13-012 entitled “Requesting the Bureau of Indian Affairs Create a New Regional Office for Energy Producing Tribes;” and
WHEREAS, the United States Congress is currently considering and the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are currently developing a proposal for a new Indian energy office; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of NCAI to provide the Congress, DOI and BIA with additional information and detail about the proposed office to ensure that the office will effectively serve Indian tribes; and
WHEREAS, NCAI proposes to amend Section 2602(a) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (25 U.S.C. 3502(a)) to create a new Indian Energy Regulatory Office (Office) that would be centrally located in Denver, Colorado and utilize and refocus the existing resources and office space of the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development’s (OIEED) Division of Indian Energy and Mineral Development; and
WHEREAS, establishing the Office in Denver, Colorado provides adequate housing and ease of recruiting new employees to a major metropolitan area, and proximity to other federal agencies involved in the energy permitting process; and
WHEREAS, the Office would be established within the Secretary’s Office, similar to the Indian Water Rights Office, to ensure that the Director of the Office has authority over the various agencies involved; and
WHEREAS, the Office would replace current BIA Regional Office authorities and responsibilities for energy producing Indian tribes, and would not result in duplicative review and approval of energy projects; and
WHEREAS, the Office would provide energy resource assessments and feasibility studies, technical assistance and training in energy development proposal review, increase BIA permitting capacity and permit streamlining, support for permitting expertise within BIA Agency Offices, improved coordination with other agencies, technical assistance and training in the oversight and management of energy and financial resources, and ensure that Indian lands are not managed according to Federal public land management standards; and
WHEREAS, Indian tribes seeking greater BIA support in the areas of energy development, oversight, management, proposal review and financial assistance could elect to be served by this Office; and
WHEREAS, existing BIA Regional Offices would continue to provide Indian tribes utilizing the new Office with support and oversight for all non-energy related issues; and
WHEREAS, to coordinate and streamline permitting, the Office would also include staff from other DOI agencies and offices involved in energy permitting on Indian lands, including: the Bureau of Land Management, the Office of Mineral Evaluation, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Office of Special Trustee, the Office of the Solicitor; and
WHEREAS, the establishment of the Office would not increase the deficit because it would utilize existing Federal resources in Denver, Colorado and existing funding from each of the agencies and offices listed above; and
WHEREAS, the Office would enter into agreements with other Federal agencies to coordinate and streamline permitting, including: the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI requests that Congress pass legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to establish and implement an Indian Energy Regulatory Office as described in this resolution and as reflected in the attached legislative proposal; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Mid-Year Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center, June 8-11, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska, with a quorum present.