DOE continues to collaborate with federal, state, local, tribal, and other partners on place-based initiatives to help overburdened communities proactively address emerging environmental challenges in ways that build long-term sustainability. Examples of these activities follow.

Four Corners Future Forum

The Four Corners Future Forum was held in Farmington, New Mexico, November 1-2, 2017, with the theme: “Thinking Regionally - Acting Locally.” The forum was well attended with over 150 participants. Tribal representation from host states of Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah, and approximately 20 government/nongovernment entities, were absorbed in two days of engaging and interactive dialogue. The breakout sessions allowed the groups to develop a practical vision and draft strategy for a long-term strategic plan. There will be two follow-up meetings. The second meeting will bring the community together once the group develops a plan to present to the community to enlist their input. Several committees were established to develop a forum report to be distributed to all attendees.

Follow-up committees will develop a work plan for the many activities that were identified in the breakout sessions and full forum. This forum will provide a shared vision of best practices, leverage resources, and create a comprehensive development plan as a model for multiple communities.

Funding Opportunity for Tribal Energy Infrastructure Deployment

On September 26, 2019 during his closing remarks at the National Tribal Energy Summit in D.C., Mark W. Menezes, Under Secretary of Energy announced that Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs issued a Notice of Intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) entitled “Energy Infrastructure Development on Indian Lands - 2020”.

“This planned funding will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience,” said Under Secretary Menezes. 

Through the planned FOA, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Indian Energy intends to solicit applications from Indian tribes, which, for the purposes of the FOA, include Alaska Native Regional Corporations and Village Corporations, Intertribal Organizations, and Tribal Energy Development Organizations, to:

  • Install energy generating system(s) and/or energy efficiency measure(s) for tribal building(s); or,
  • Deploy community-scale energy generating system(s) or energy storage on Tribal Lands; or,
  • Install integrated energy system(s) for autonomous operation (independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid) to power a single or multiple essential tribal facilities during emergency situations or for tribal community resilience; or,
  • Deploy energy infrastructure or integrated energy system(s) to electrify tribal buildings.

See the Office of Indian Energy for additional information.

Los Alamos – Pueblos’ Project (LAPP)

DOE continues to fund a share of four cooperative agreements to implement LAPP, which was formed under provisions of Secretarial Accords with Pueblo governments located near LANL. By mutual arrangement in order to accommodate the transition of LANL Management and Operating (M&O) contractors only one Accord Technical Exchange Meeting (ATEM) was held during the year where the Pueblos were updated on progress of the transition. ATEMs are normally held quarterly. The Field Office Intergovernmental Program ensures cross-functional compliance with DOE Order 144.1. Under provisions of its LANL M&O contract Triad National Security, LLC supports those efforts in its relevant parts.

National Tribal Energy Summit

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) convened the 2019 National Tribal Energy Summit (NTES), Tribal Energy: Powering Self-Determination, Sept. 24-26, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

NTES provided state and tribal leaders alike an opportunity to sit together, connect and exchange ideas about tribal energy efforts, the impacts on economies, the strides and the possibilities. Experiencing firsthand capacity building in motion and real ways to better understand and honor tribal sovereignty – and each other – participants gained broader perspectives and opportunities to advance energy goals, with hopefully a more holistic view. 

For additional meeting highlights visit the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs blog "2019 National Tribal Energy Summit Connects Tribes with Solutions Toward Energy Sovereignty."

Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group

The mission of the Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group (NETWG) is to engage federally recognized tribal governments and their designated representatives in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) activities. NETWG will serve as a conduit to foster communication, education of all generations, and promote active involvement of tribal governments. NETWG is dedicated to assisting in developing and maintaining the government-to-government relationship between DOE and Indian Tribes, consistent with DOE’s American Indian Policy.

NETWG shall be comprised of the DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy or their designated senior leadership representative(s) along with those tribal leaders or designated representatives who may be interested in or impacted by activities under the authority of the Office of Nuclear Energy. Such activities include but are not limited to expanded educational opportunities for all generations; management, storage, disposal, transportation of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste; nuclear research and development; small modular reactors; stakeholder outreach; emergency response and planning activities; and potential economic business opportunities.

NETWG Members

Partnership with Tribal Communities

To build capacity of tribal community and address EJ concerns, DOE sites are actively engaging and collaborating with tribal governments and communities. DOE is working to incorporate EJ principles in its collaboration with federally recognized tribes in building capacity to establish public participation, community involvement, education, and communication systems to engage with American Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and others affected by tribal programs.

DOE is involved with cleaning up nuclear waste at nationwide sites and facilities. The waste, a result of nuclear weapons production, has affected sovereign tribal nations located near these facilities.

The tribal nations have been impacted by different types of waste contamination, and their participation in the Department’s mission is critical.

DOE maintains cooperative agreements with specific tribes located around sites, facilities, and along routes used to transport wastes and materials. DOE continues to provide funding for the State and Tribal Government Working Group (STGWG) to support national meetings including the biennial National Tribal Energy Summit. Hosted by DOE in coordination with the National Conference of State Legislatures, the event brings tribal leaders together with senior administration officials and representatives from federal agencies, state governments, private industry, utilities, and academia to exchange ideas and explore new and permanent solutions to our combined energy challenges.

Tribal Affairs Meetings and Historic Preservation

DOE discusses tribal cooperative agreements and other (non-cultural resources) issues of interest to tribes, such as cleanup and restoration activities and long-term stewardship of the Hanford, Washington, Site.

DOE is also involved in government-to-government discussions regarding public access to the Rattlesnake Mountain Unit of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Rattlesnake Mountain is an important traditional cultural property and sacred site. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead federal agency, discussions include the tribes, DOE (as the landowner), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

A notable achievement in 2018 was the DOE transfer of nearly 200 boxes of tribal artifacts and records from storage at a local university to the Wanapum Heritage Center for long-term curation.

Tribal Emergency Management

DOE involves minority and low-income communities in emergency management planning, training, and potential cross-agency support. Representative from Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Santa Fe Counties, including Pueblo governments in those counties, were invited to plan two LANL emergency drills to assure authenticity. The Emergency Operations Center Joint Information Center deploys a tribal liaison to ensure tribal communities are provided real time updates of emergency activities. In two major fires and a region-wide winter home heating gas shortage, tribal emergency assets were called into service to support the response and recovery effort.

Tribal Energy Program Managed by the DOE Office of Indian Energy

DOE funds a wide variety of conventional, renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects to assist tribes in realizing their energy visions. Since 2010, the DOE Office of Indian Energy invested more than $62.5 million in nearly 160 tribal energy projects implemented across the contiguous 48 states and in Alaska. These projects, valued at over $130 million, are leveraged by over $68 million in recipient cost share. In 2017, DOE provided $12 million with nearly $20 million in cost sharing.

Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA)

DOE continues to support the Navajo Nation UMTRA Program through the cooperative agreement that helps provide support for independent inspections of the four sites on the Navajo Nation (Monument Valley, Arizona, Processing Site and three disposal cells at Mexican Hat, Utah; Shiprock, New Mexico; and Tuba City, Arizona) by their staff. DOE will continue to work with participants of the Navajo Nation Five-Year Plan who are a part of the Community Outreach Network. Interacting with other federal and Navajo agencies is a helpful and useful tool for working together to accomplish the overall goal of informing and educating community members as a group with the same purpose.