Powers Principal Paul Moorehead authored an article for Law360 earlier this month discussing issues with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ managed programs regarding energy resources on Indian lands.
In the opinion piece titled, “Solving The Energy Problems On Federal And Indian Lands,” Paul writes about how the Government Accountability Office highlighted the BIA’s mismanagement of Indian energy resources, adding the program to its list of “high risk” programs.
“The ‘high risk’ label is justified, says the GAO, because of delays in processing energy-related documents; lack of collaboration with sister agencies on Indian energy matters; outdated and deteriorated equipment; technology and infrastructure; and incomplete and inaccurate data,” Paul writes.
In the article, Paul writes that the GAO recommended the BIA utilize administrative changes to work toward resolving the problem, as well as working with Congress which needs to maintain its focus on challenges affecting Indian energy development.
President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are moving quickly to identify and eliminate obstacles to more robust energy development on federal and Indian lands, Paul writes, including an executive order issued in late March and two secretarial orders issued one day following the president’s action.
Paul writes that “bureaucratic inefficiencies and market challenges routinely thrown in the path of tribes trying to develop their economies through energy development are not secret and they are not new,” but the recommendations for change all share one commonality: greater tribal control and decision-making regarding energy development.