National Congress of American Indians 8 (The oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the interests of tribal governments and communities, December 17, Indian Country Economic Recovery Plan, http://www.nativecontractors.org/media/pdf/NCAI_Economic_Stimulus_Proposal.pdf)
Renewable Energy Development - The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the wind resources of the Great Plains could meet about 75% of the electricity demand in the lower 48 states. Estimates of the wind resources within the boundaries of just 12 Indian reservations in North and South Dakota indicate a potential in excess of 250 gigawatts of power - a more than 100-fold increase over the existing power capacity now available from all of the hydropower dams on the main stem of the Missouri River.xWind energy potential on tribal lands alone can meet at least 15-20% of the nation’s energy needs, and solar electric potential on tribal lands is 4.5 times greater than total U.S. electrical generation in 2004. As such, the federal government should dedicate much greater technical assistance and financing to bringing tribal wind, solar, and other green energy projects online. Renewable energy projects generated on Indian reservations provide environmental, economic, energy, and public health benefits to tribal governments and peoples, surrounding communities, the nation, and the world. These projects are particularly valuable when some tribes in these areas provide few job opportunities and experience unemployment rates greater than 40%. In light of tribal circumstances and the clear multiple benefits, NCAI recommends that the federal program most responsible for bringing renewable energy projects to tribal lands – DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Tribal Energy Program – receive a significant increase in funding, which would in turn be provided to tribes. The program promotes tribal energy sufficiency, economic development, and employment on tribal lands through feasibility studies and demonstration projects in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies such as wind, solar, and biomass. The program has funded 91 tribal energy projects totaling $14.1 million from 2002 to 2007. This year, 10 of 50 applicants were funded, and the program office has a list of the unfunded projects that are ready to go. NCAI recommends that the existing budget be multiplied five- fold, to approximately $15 million per year. NCAI also recommends, consistent with Section 6 of E.O. 13175, that the program establish criteria permitting reductions or waivers of the tribal cost share. Energy Efficiency - The Department of Energy has been providing 15 years of federal assistance to states and local governments to improve the energy efficiency provisions of buildings codes under the Energy Conservation and Production Act. The 2005 Act authorizes appropriation of $25 million per year for this program, including $500,000 for training state and local government officials. This pattern of federal assistance has overlooked the fact that tribal governments also have the authority to enact and implement building codes for buildings on lands within their jurisdiction. However, tribal governments have been left out of this federal assistance program.xi Tribes should be included as eligible recipients for funds under this Act, and in light of the historical omission, be provided a 10% set-aside to be reconsidered at the end of 5 years. This funding is critical for the development of tribal ordinances that result in energy efficiency.