SEATTLE - Native Americans, in the state of Washington and across the
country, bear some of the highest costs related to climate change,
according to a new report. At the same time, 95 million acres of tribal
land across the nation offer great potential for new clean energy
development. Steve Torbit directs the National Wildlife Federation's
(NWF) Tribal Lands Conservation Program, which issued the report.
Torbit says biomass and wind projects seem to hold the most potential
for Washington tribes, although changes in state and federal policy and
some tax changes are needed, as well as increased access to capital, to
allow them to develop those resources.
"It gives some economic development to the tribe; it could provide some
job training that could improve their dire unemployment situation, and
it can also help the American public as we look for non-fossil-fuel
Monique LaChappa is Nation Chairwoman for the Campo Kumeyaay Nation,
which developed the country's first tribal wind farm in California.
LaChappa says her tribe is already working on starting a second, larger
"But you have to remember, you also have to have everything that goes
with starting a renewable energy project: transmission, the developers."
In addition to helping states reach their renewable energy goals, the
report outlines how these projects also can help tribes meet their own,
local needs. The study estimates 15 percent of Native American homes
nationwide have no access to electricity.
Several organizations - NWF, the Native American Rights Fund
and the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy
- collaborated on
the report, "The New Energy Future in Indian Country." It can be viewed
online at http://nwf.org