As an entrepreneur, strategic communications professional, and policy wonk, I've worked on social innovations in the for-profit and non-profit world, helping to develop campaigns and solutions to social and natural resource challenges.

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A New Energy Future for Indian Country


Solar energy alone on tribal lands could generate up to 4.5 times the United States' total energy consumption of 17.6 TWh.  With tribal lands making up 5% of the United States with 10% of the country's renewable energy resources the role of tribal nations will continue to expand along side the country's clean energy growth scenario. 

The importance of tribal government involvement is outlined in a new report released this week by a group of collaborating organizations including the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Rights Fund, Intertribal Council On Utility Policy, and the National Wildlife Federation. 

Indian Tribes are disproportionately bearing the brunt of climate change says the report, The New Energy Future in Indian Country: Confronting Climate Change, Creating Jobs, and Conserving Nature.  But the huge potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources presents tribes with the opportunity to be a significant part of the solution through climate policy that creates green jobs and protects natural resources, detailed in a new report.

“Tribal households pay significantly more in home energy expenses than other Americans,” said Bob Gruenig, senior policy analyst, National Tribal Environmental Council. “The vast potential on tribal lands to generate clean energy from renewable resources means that Indian Tribes can help to provide for their own energy needs, generate clean power for a new energy future in Indian Country, and put American on the path to energy independence.”

“With 95 million acres of land under their management and centuries of experience conserving the natural world, Indian tribes can play a significant role in protecting natural resources from climate change and coping with a warmer world,” said Steve Torbit, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center and Tribal Lands Conservation Program.

As soveriegn nations, tribal energy has long been a focus for tribal governments.  However, now as the demand for clean energy grows and involvement of the public and private sectors increases, tribes are in a advantageous position to provide sustainable energy opportunities and benefit from the economic development associated with clean energy. 

In addition to the Department of Energy and NREL's work with Tribes and a handful of other organizations, my colleagues at Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development) have been working along side tribal governments to develop energy planning scenarios and in the last couple years have released a number of community and tribal renewable energy best practice resources. Download a relevant guide from Northwest SEED; ENERGY PLANNING: A Guide for Northwest Indian Tribes


ENERGY PLANNING: A Guide for Northwest Indian Tribes

This guidebook, created by Northwest SEED with funding from the Bullitt Foundation, is a new tool to help Native American Tribes develop a plan to achieve energy independence. The guide contains information and resources to help select and implement projects to conserve energy, generate clean, renewable energy, construct efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and other energy related community or business projects --- all tailored to the geography of the Northwest and the people of its Tribes.

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