November 04, 2009

Udall: Indian Country Must be Key Player in Development of Clean Energy Legislation

Senator Delivers Remarks at National Gathering of Tribal Leaders

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, today delivered remarks on the impact of clean energy and climate change legislation on Indian Country during a gathering of representatives of the nation's 564 federally-recognized tribes.

"Indian Country represents 5 percent of the nation's land base and contains 10 percent of its energy resources. Your lands are rich in renewable resources like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. And you are examples to the nation of what it means to be true stewards of the land," Udall told the group. "I'm working hard in the Senate to make sure Native tribes not only have a seat at the table in this debate, but also get their fair share of the benefits and economic opportunity we expect from our transition to a clean energy economy."

The tribes were in Washington, DC, for the White House Tribal Nations Conference. Udall will attend the summit's opening session at the White House tomorrow morning.

Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where clean energy legislation is currently being debated. The Senator has been a strong advocate for inclusion of provisions in the bill to address the unique concerns of tribal communities. Last month, along with Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Udall sponsored a briefing to hear from tribal leaders on the impact of the legislation.

From that meeting and others, Udall championed several provisions in the Senate bill that would:

  • Increase the share of funding available for tribes for renewable energy and energy efficiency to as much as 3 percent.
  • Increase the tribal share of domestic adaption funding to as much as 5 percent.
  • Include tribes in energy efficient building and home heating assistance programs.
  • Require greater inclusion of tribes in planning provisions concerning fish and wildlife habitats, drinking water and wastewater system adaption, clean transportation, and state natural resource adaption.
  • Ensure that 5 percent of federal natural resource adaption funding goes to tribes and that tribal land is eligible for additional federal natural resources funding.

"We've put together a package of provisions that I believe address many of the concerns we've heard from you about how this legislation will impact tribal communities," Udall told the group. "We have not yet made all of the improvements that tribal leaders and experts have identified, but we have made great progress - and we could not have done it without the organizations that invited me here today."

The climate change luncheon and briefing was sponsored by National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Rights Fund, the National Tribal Environmental Council, and the National Wildlife Federation.