The largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments has called on the Biden administration to halt offshore wind projects. They want to ensure that the tribes are involved in project planning and that steps are taken to protect their territories and traditional resources.
In a resolution adopted this week, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) “strongly urges the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to cease all scoping and permitting for projects in offshore wind until the completion of a comprehensive and transparent procedure that is adequate. the protection of the interests of the environment and tribal sovereignty is developed and implemented. It was adopted during a meeting of the general assembly of the organization that ended yesterday, Bloomberg reports.
They want to ensure that the tribes are involved in project planning and that steps are taken to protect their territories and traditional resources.
Some proposed offshore projects are located near federally recognized tribal territory. Yet concerns from Indigenous peoples are often sidelined, according to researchers and advocates. They worry that wind power could repeat the damage done by fossil fuel companies and other extractive industries. In a commentary on CalMatters last month, Frankie Myers, vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe, called out wind energy companies for not meeting with the tribe after bidding for wind leases off the coast of California.
“California tribes are concerned that these corporations will come in, profit off our resources and leave our communities poorer for it — just as their predecessors did,” Myers wrote.
The resolution adopted by the NCAI this week urges the Biden administration to fulfill a legal obligation to consult with tribal nations on any energy projects that have an impact on their territories. That includes negotiating “fair compensation” for the use of their lands and resources and protections to prevent damage to the environment or cultural heritage.
“We agree with NCAI that Tribes should have a seat at the table,” Tracey Moriarty, chief of the Office of Communications at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said in The Verge in an email. “We are constantly working to improve the consultation process to engage Tribes in a respectful manner,” the email said.
The Department of the Interior did not immediately respond to a request for comment The Verge. But the Biden administration has made commitments to consult with tribes and respect Indigenous knowledge in formulating policies. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and is the first Native American to become a cabinet secretary, similarly said that tribes should “have a seat at the table for every decision that affects them and their communities. .”