Suagee: Tribes and the green energy revolution
"On Sept. 8, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., hosted a briefing for Senate staff on the inclusion of tribal governments in pending bills to deal with the climate crisis and promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. The panel of speakers was coordinated by the National Congress of American Indians and National Tribal Environmental Council, and I was a speaker.

The speakers made many important points about the impacts of climate change on tribes, as well as points about how tribes should be included in specific bills, mainly the Waxman-Markey bill, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and similar bills under consideration in the Senate, such as the American Clean Energy Leadership Act, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

My assigned role was to focus specifically on two sections of the Waxman-Markey bill that deal with energy efficiency in buildings. Section 201 deals with building codes and would put us on a path toward making zero-net-energy the standard practice by about 2030. This one measure has the potential to achieve about half the greenhouse gas reductions we need in order to reduce our emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by mid-century. Section 202 would create a program, to be administered by states, for retrofitting existing buildings for energy efficiency. It fails to mention tribal governments.

Tribal governments need to be included in federal programs to promote energy efficiency, especially support for the adoption and enforcement of energy efficient building codes and federal support for retrofitting existing buildings. To the extent that energy efficiency services are provided through state government agencies with federal funding, we need to be sure that the assistance reaches Indian country, or that tribes have workable options to run programs directly. Congress might want to know, for example, how much of the $4 billion appropriated in the Recovery Act for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization program is actually reaching eligible households in Indian country."

Get the Story:
Dean Suagee: Tribal sovereignty and the green energy revolution (Indian Country Today 9/18)

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