DOE Plays Host to Seventh Tribal Clean Energy Summit

October 10, 2022 by Dan McCue
DOE Plays Host to Seventh Tribal Clean Energy Summit
Derrick Watchman, master of ceremonies, and Wahleah Johns, of the DOE Office of Indian Energy.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Energy played host to more than 60 tribal leaders and an additional 350 participants last week for the 7th Tribal Clean Energy Summit.

During the two-day conference, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs Director Wahleah Johns, and other senior DOE officials met with participants to exchange ideas and explore cost-effective approaches to tribal energy sovereignty.

The meeting was unrelated to but coincided with the release of the Defense Department and other federal agencies’ 2022 Climate Adaptation Plan Progress Report

“For the Biden-Harris administration, tribal engagement isn’t a box to be checked — it’s a partnership to be forged,” Granholm said in a written statement. 

“It was an honor to sit with tribal leaders and hear how the department can better align our resources with their vision for a clean energy future — to chart a path forward — together — that advances tribal energy sovereignty, strengthens energy independence, and addresses the climate crisis,” she said.

During the summit, tribal leaders participated in a high-level overview of key DOE programs, a moderated tribal leader-focused caucus discussion, and facilitated a roundtable discussion on tribal energy sovereignty with Granholm. 

Other key energy attendees engaged in a separate and highly impactful track with DOE briefings on current developments and opportunities, as well as key external strategies to support tribal energy infrastructure development and advance tribal energy security and sovereignty. 

“As the United States moves towards a cleaner future, it’s so important to continue these government-to-government conversations with tribal nations to ensure that we strike an equitable balance on energy resources that preserves our ability to maintain our tribal sovereignty and protects our natural and cultural resources,” said Bobby Gonzalez, principal executive officer and chairman, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.

“Tribal lands hold so much potential to produce energy — from both traditional and renewable resources — and it’s been very positive to see the Department of Energy, along with the entire Biden administration, acknowledge that,” Gonzalez said.

Keolani Booth, councilman for the Metlakatla Indian Community, said traveling to Washington from Southeast Alaska, is “quite a journey for meetings.”

“Our unique needs in my community are not normally understood or considered,” Booth said. “I feel that this summit was very successful, and I feel heard for my community.

“I am bringing home a great wealth of information and new relationships that I think put my tribe, and Indian country in a better place than ever before.” 

“Learning of all the opportunities available to Indian Country and Alaska at the Tribal Clean Energy Summit was awesome,” said Chairman Melvin J. Baker of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. “Every tribe is different as well as their needs for their homelands. I look forward to the next summit!” 

Mark Fox, chairman of the  Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations, singled out Granholm in particular for praise.

“Her effort in working with tribal nations is quite commendable,” Fox said. “We have great hope that Secretary Granholm will continue her working relationship with tribal nations.

“As an energy producing tribe, we have much experience in regulation and responsible development. As we further develop our renewable energy projects, we look forward to a streamlined funding process,” Fox said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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