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Obama Administration Roadblocks on Indian Land Hamper Energy Development, Stifle Job Creation, Hurt Tribal Economies

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2011 - As part of House Republican’s American Energy Initiative, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian Affairs and Native Alaskans will hold a hearing today on “Tribal development of energy resources and the creation of energy jobs on Indian lands." While Indian lands contain vast energy resources, actions by the Obama Administration have prevented many tribes from developing resources, creating jobs and improving their local tribal economies.

Indian Energy and Production Value According to a 2008 study by the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED):

Indian Energy Production
(dollars in millions)
Commodity Value of Reserves
Produced in 2007
Total Value of Produced
Reserves (1937-2007)
and (1928-2007) for Coal
Proven Recoverable
Oil $898 $19,545 881,609,916 bbls. =
$66,121 at $75/bbl
Natural Gas $1,832 $18,677 10,011,633,407 mcf =
$60,070 at $4/mcf
Coal $616 $15,385 1,203,600,00 tons =
$14,443 at $12/ton

Since taking office, the Obama Administration has implemented numerous roadblocks to Indian energy development.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the cancellation of a permit for a Navajo Nation power plant that Navajo leadership called the most important development project the tribe has ever undertaken. The plant was expected to create 400 permanent jobs and generate $50 million per year in revenue.
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) burdensome and extremely slow lease approval process can take years. One oil and natural gas lease approved by the Crow Tribe in 2005 took two years to come online due to slow BIA processes.
  • Ute tribes have waited as long as five years for BIA to process an Application for Permit to Drill (APD). In 2010, one drilling operator, Anadarko submitted 187 APDs but only received an average of 1.7 APDs approved per month.
  • Increased APD fees by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) create disincentives to explore for energy on Indian lands, rather than state lands. Each APD fee has increased from $4,000 to $6,500 compared to a $100 fee for Montana state lands.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no Minor Source Permitting Program within Indian Country. This means they must classify stationary energy development sources that would normally qualify as a “minor source” emitter on non-Indian land as “major source” emitters. This provides extreme economic disincentives for energy development on tribal lands.


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Contact: Jill Strait, Spencer Pederson or Crystal Feldman 202-226-9019

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