Environment | National

Interviews: Tracey LeBeau, director of new Indian Energy office

The Arctic Sounder interviews Tracey LeBeau, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who serves as the director of the new Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the Department of Energy.

"Question: The Office of Indian Energy was ... launched at the tribal nation's gathering Obama held a few months ago. But (it was apparently launched in 2007 too, with Steve Morello named as director). So are there two such offices? Or did this one in 2007 go defunct? How can we have a new office now and a new office then with the same name?

I knew Steve Morello, and vaguely how it was going back then. It's my understanding he was brought in and he was placed under Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. There was no office formally created to house either this office or him as an employee. So up until January of this year, I guess you could say the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs was around, but it wasn't stood up as a formal office. And it had no budget or programmatic, administrative support until this was formally created last month.

I should clarify, it had appropriations when the Obama Administration came in. The office was appropriated for 2009 and 2010, so there was the beginning of some support in that regard. But the office was not formally stood up until last month.

Question: I understand that President Obama has provided a much different feel toward Indian tribes than we've gotten perhaps from any other president ever, in terms of his support for Indian tribes. But I have to ask, in light of this office appearing and disappearing in 2007, is this the real deal, or are you going to disappear in a couple months?

I would say the department has put forward budget requests for this office consistently, since Secretary Chu has been on.

So far in 2012, this office was separately identified and a budget request was made, so to the degree Congress continues to support those budget requests, like any other office, we'll continue to be here.

And I'm in the process of trying to put together a staffing plan not just for this year, but a longer-term staffing plan for the Office of Indian Energy. I do have a deputy director that has come on recently and we're starting to put together a staffing plan for the longer term."

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New Energy Department office seeks ideas for energy solutions on tribal lands (The Arctic Sounder 3/7)

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