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U.S. Indian tribes going green?

Nov. 29, 2011 at 8:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Revisions to leases for renewable energy development on U.S. tribal land supports self-determination for American Indian nations, an official said.

The U.S. Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced proposed rules that remove federal roadblocks to commercial, residential and renewable energy development of tribal land.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk said the revisions make good sense for American Indian authorities.

"The revised regulations will bring greater transparency, efficiency and workability to the Bureau of Indian Affairs approval process and will provide tribal communities and individuals certainty and flexibility when it comes to decisions on the use of their land," he said in a statement.

Legislation from the 1960s lacks certain processes for surfaces leases, which means applications can take several years before approved. BIA, under the new guidelines, simplifies the process and distinguishes between single-family homes and large-scale renewable energy programs on tribal lands.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the revision is part of a White House initiative to empower tribal nations in the United States and strengthen their economies.

The Interior Department manages about 56 million acres of tribal land.

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