August 02, 2022

Cortez Masto Introduces Legislation to Support Critical Energy Projects in Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced legislation to make it easier for Tribes in Nevada and across the country to launch critical energy development projects. The Tribal Energy Loan Improvement Act will create good-paying jobs, bring down energy prices, and increase the production of energy on Tribal lands.

“Affordable energy is key to economic development in Tribal communities,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My legislation will provide Tribes across Nevada the financial support they need to unlock crucial energy resources, create good-paying jobs, and expand their energy independence.”

Some Native communities pay higher prices for energy and electricity than the national average, even though Tribal lands often have significant potential for developing new energy projects that benefit Tribal economies and create jobs. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 6.5 percent of the nation’s total renewable energy resources is located on Tribal land. However, Tribes continue to face difficulty accessing capital.

Currently, DOE’s Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program (TELGP) can provide loan guarantees up to 90 percent of any loan made to federally recognized Tribes or Tribal entities, including Alaska Native Corporations, for energy development projects. Even with the loan guarantee, however, private lenders are often unwilling to work with Tribes and Tribal organizations on energy projects. To address this problem Senator Cortez Masto worked to include a provision in the 2022 government funding bill to allow the DOE to make loans directly to Tribes and Tribal energy development organizations through the Federal Financing Bank for one fiscal year. The Tribal Energy Investment Act would make this direct loan access permanent. It also allows DOE to use funds previously appropriated for the cost of loan guarantees for the cost of direct loans.

Senator Cortez Masto is one of the strongest champions for Native Americans in the Senate. In 2020, she passed the bipartisan Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act to help address the epidemic of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous women, and she has continued to work to ensure the implementation of those laws. Most recently, the Senator announced that the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe is receiving $299,198 from the Department of Health and Human Services to preserve and teach the Tribe’s native language, the Northern Paiute language. During the Coronavirus pandemic she highlighted the urgent need increase funding for Tribal governments to meet the challenges of the pandemic.