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Tribal Power Act

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 9, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5541) to amend the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to reauthorize programs to assist consenting Indian Tribes in meeting energy education, planning, and management needs, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 5541

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Tribal Power Act''. SEC. 2. INDIAN ENERGY.

(a) Definition of Indian Land.--Section 2601(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (25 U.S.C. 3501(2)) is amended--

(1) in subparagraph (B)(iii), by striking ``and'';

(2) in subparagraph (C), by striking ``land.'' and inserting ``land;''; and

(3) by adding at the end the following subparagraphs:

``(D) any land located in a census tract in which the majority of residents are Natives (as defined in section 3(b) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602(b))); and

``(E) any land located in a census tract in which the majority of residents are persons who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Tribe or village.''.

(b) Reduction of Cost Share.--Section 2602(b)(5) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (25 U.S.C. 3502(b)(5)) is amended by adding at the end the following subparagraphs:

``(D) The Secretary of Energy may reduce any applicable cost share required of an Indian tribe, intertribal organization, or tribal energy development organization in order to receive a grant under this subsection to not less than 10 percent if the Indian tribe, intertribal organization, or tribal energy development organization meets criteria developed by the Secretary of Energy, including financial need.

``(E) Section 988 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16352) shall not apply to assistance provided under this subsection.''.

(c) Authorization.--Section 2602(b)(7) of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (25 U.S.C. 3502(b)(7)) is amended by striking ``$20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2016'' and inserting ``$30,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025''. SEC. 3. REPORT ON ELECTRICITY ACCESS AND RELIABILITY.

(a) Assessment.--The Secretary of Energy shall conduct an assessment of the status of access to electricity by households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land, and the reliability of electric service available to households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land, as compared to the status of access to and reliability of electricity within neighboring States or within the State in which Indian land is located.

(b) Consultation.--The Secretary of Energy shall consult with Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the development and conduct of the assessment under subsection (a). Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations shall have the opportunity to review and make recommendations regarding the development of the assessment and the findings of the assessment, prior to the submission of the report under subsection (c).

(c) Report.--Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report on the results of the assessment conducted under subsection (a), which shall include--

(1) a description of generation, transmission, and distribution assets available to provide electricity to households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land;

(2) a survey of the retail and wholesale prices of electricity available to households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land;

(3) a description of participation of Tribal members in the electric utility workforce, including the workforce for construction and maintenance of renewable energy resources and distributed energy resources;

(4) the percentage of households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land that do not have access to electricity;

(5) the potential of distributed energy resources to provide electricity to households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land;

(6) the potential for tribally-owned electric utilities or electric utility assets to participate in or benefit from regional electricity markets;

(7) a description of the barriers to providing access to electric service to households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land; and

(8) recommendations to improve access to and reliability of electric service for households residing in Tribal communities or on Indian land.

(d) Definitions.--In this section:

(1) Tribal member.--The term ``Tribal member'' means a person who is an enrolled member of a federally recognized Tribe or village.

(2) Tribal community.--The term ``Tribal community'' means a community in a United States census tract in which the majority of residents are persons who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Tribe or village.

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Mr. PALLONE. 5541.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 5541, the Tribal Power Act. This is a bipartisan bill that was introduced by Representative O'Halleran from Arizona and Representative Mullin from Oklahoma, both members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

This important legislation addresses some of the urgent energy needs of Tribal communities by improving access to energy sources that are affordable and reliable.

H.R. 5541 reauthorizes the Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy and reauthorizes programs to assist Indian Tribes in meeting energy education, planning, and management needs.

Mr. Speaker, we must work with Tribal Governments to ensure the members of Tribal Nations have access to affordable, reliable energy. We have made some strong bipartisan strides on these matters during this Congress, including this bill before us today.

As we prepare for the upcoming Congress, I am committed to working with the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Rush and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do even more to help Native American communities on these matters in the 117th Congress.

I thank the sponsors of this bill for their continued work and leadership on Tribal issues. I also thank House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Grijalva, a champion of Native American priorities, for his support which was crucial to bringing this bill to the floor today.

This is an important bipartisan bill that deserves to become law. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting passage, and I reserve the balance of my time. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources, Washington, DC, December 7, 2020. Hon. Frank Pallone Jr., Chair, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Chair Pallone: In recognition of the goal of expediting consideration of H.R. 5541, the ``Tribal Power Act,'' the Committee on Natural Resources agrees to waive formal consideration of the bill as to provisions that fall within the Rule X jurisdiction of the Committee on Natural Resources.

The Committee on Natural Resources takes this action with the mutual understanding that, in doing so, we do not waive any jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in this or similar legislation, and that the Committee will be appropriately consulted and involved as the bill or similar legislation moves forward so that we may address any remaining issues within our jurisdiction. Our Committee also reserves the right to seek appointment of conferees to any House-Senate conference involving this or similar legislation.

Thank you for agreeing to include our exchange of letters in the Congressional Record. I appreciate your cooperation regarding this legislation and look forward to continuing to work with you as this measure moves through the legislative process. Sincerely, Raul M. Grijalva, Chair, House Natural Resources Committee. ____ House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington, DC, December 8, 2020. Hon. Raul M. Grijalva, Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources, Washington, DC.

Dear Chairman Grijalva: Thank you for consulting with the Committee on Energy and Commerce and agreeing to discharge H.R. 5541, the Tribal Power Act, from further consideration, so that the bill may proceed expeditiously to the House floor.

I agree that your forgoing further action on this measure does not in any way diminish or alter the jurisdiction of your committee or prejudice its jurisdictional prerogatives on this measure or similar legislation in the future. I would support your effort to seek appointment of an appropriate number of conferees from your committee to any House-Senate conference on this legislation.

I will ensure our letters on H.R. 5541 are entered into the Congressional Record during floor consideration of the bill. I appreciate your cooperation regarding this legislation and look forward to continuing to work together as this measure moves through the legislative process. Sincerely, Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman.
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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I have no additional speakers, but I do want to say that I never thought that Mr. Mullin had a bad attitude.
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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I urge support for the legislation and I yield back the balance of my time.

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