Victory in Congress for Indian Country, Led by the Ute Tribe



Ft. Duchesne, UT — December 18th, 2018.

On December 11, 2018, the United States Congress passed the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act to promote and streamline Indian energy development. The bill is now on its way to the President to be signed into law. The Ute Indian Tribe congratulates Indian Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator Hoeven, on the passage of this important bill.

The Ute Indian Tribe worked for almost a decade to pass Indian energy legislation. In 2010, the Tribe met with former Senator Dorgan, provided comments and supported his Indian Energy Parity Act. In 2011, the Tribe provided Congress with 32 legislative proposals to overcome obstacles that prevent the Tribe from fully benefiting from its energy resources. Many of these proposals became the foundation for the bill that just passed Congress.

“This Indian energy bill will provide the Ute Indian Tribe with more options to develop and manage our energy resources,” the Business Committee commented. “The Ute Indian Tribe worked long and hard in support of this bill. Its passage is a major achievement.”

The Business Committee also looked to the future, “With this achievement, it is time for Congress to renew hearings on Indian energy. We still have obstacles to address and need creative thinking to fully unlock the potential of Indian energy resources.”

The Ute Indian Tribe has been producing oil and gas for more than 70 years. Energy development on the Tribe’s Reservation generates tens of millions of dollars in economic activity in Utah and supports thousands of jobs across the United States. Despite the Tribe’s success, this development is a small fraction of the total energy and economic development the Tribe could provide for its members, the regional economy and the United States. The Tribe looks to the new Congress to continue its efforts to promote and streamline Indian energy development.

Once signed by the President, the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self- Determination Act will provide opportunities for increased tribal control over energy permitting, direct tribal funding of weatherization assistance, and additional authority for the Departments of the Interior and Energy to support Indian energy development. The bill will also help to ensure that federal agencies work with Indian tribes when developing well spacing programs, and provide Indian tribes with the same priority as other governments when applying for a hydroelectric power license.

About the Ute Indian Tribe - The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. Three bands of Utes comprise the Ute Indian Tribe: the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah Band. The Tribe has a membership of more than three thousand individuals, with over half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Ute Indian Tribe operates its own tribal government and oversees significant oil and gas deposits on its 4.5 million acre Reservation. The Tribal Business Committee is the governing council of the Tribe.

Robert Lucero