The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) within the DOI is responsible for the administration and management of 55.7 million acres of land held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. There are 561 federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. Among the agency's responsibilities are developing forestlands, leasing assets on these lands, directing agricultural programs, protecting water and land rights, developing and maintaining infrastructure, and economic development.
The BIA and tribal governments are authorized to grant ROW across tribal lands for energy resources, electric transmission lines, and natural gas and oil pipelines. Title V of the EPAct of 2005 includes important additional provisions relating to energy on tribal lands. Among other things, Title V authorizes DOI to enter into "Tribal Energy Resource
The Tribal Energy Program, under the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, provides financial and technical assistance to tribes for feasibility studies of renewable energy development on tribal lands and offers assistance to tribes for the initial steps toward renewable energy and energy efficiency development.
Agreements" (TERA) with Indian tribes and to establish and implement regulations governing the TERA approval process. The intent of these agreements is to promote tribal oversight and management of energy and mineral resource development on tribal lands and further the goal of Indian self-determination. The DOI published proposed regulations in August 2006 in the Federal Register. Additionally, pursuant to Section 1813 of the EPAct of 2005, the DOI and the DOE submitted a joint Report to Congress in May 2007 on issues associated with Indian Land ROWs.
The BIA works with tribes to develop renewable energy on tribal lands. The BIA has funded Wind Energy Feasibility Studies and economic evaluations that indicate high wind energy potential on 93 reservations located in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The BIA is using a recent study by the Energy Information Administration, Energy Consumption and Renewable Energy Development Potential on Indian Lands, on a reservation level to evaluate particular opportunities for economic benefit from renewable energy development.
To explore the possibility of siting a wind generating facility on BIA-managed trust land, a developer may take the following three steps.
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