WASHINGTON, DC -- On June 28, the Navajo Nation gained uranium protections and energy self determination from Senate passage (85-12) of the National Energy Policy Act (H.R. 6). The Indian Energy Title language of the legislation, crafted by the bi-partisan efforts of New Mexico Senators Pete Dominici (R) and Jeff Bingaman (D), encourages energy development by Native Nations while protecting the Navajo Nation from further uranium mining.
Now the bill will head for conference between the House and Senate to reconcile differences in the two versions. The House, which passed its bill in April, contains incentives for traditional energy production including nuclear, while reintroducing protections for MTBE suppliers who produce a chemical blamed for water contamination in several western states. These protections derailed the energy bill during the last Congressional session.
In the Senate version, besides housing the Indian Energy Title language, also contains more incentives for alternative fuels, like wind and solar, and encourages conservation including a limit to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the United States.
The administration, which has tried to get a comprehensive energy policy off the ground during the past five years, has publicly urged both bodies to conference soon with hopes for President Bush to sign the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by the start of the August recess.
According to the Navajo Nation Washington Office, the Navajo Nation must continue its watch in assuring the Indian Energy Title language survives the conference committee process.
"We are incredibly thankful both Senators from New Mexico have continued to advocate on behalf of the Navajo people regarding energy self determination and uranium protections," said Sharon Clahchischilliage, NNWO Executive Director.
The Navajo provisions in the Indian Energy Title include new eligibility for grants, loans and loan guarantees for Navajo Nation electrification and further natural resource development. The title authorizes the Navajo Electrification Project until 2011 and extends the eligibility of the Dine Power Authority to receive grants and assistance for the development of the Navajo Transmission Project.
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