Indigenous Groups Support New Bill to Transition U.S. to 100 Clean Energy by 2035
Bemidji, MN – The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), today, joined a diverse set of environmental organizations and members of Congress, calling for passage of the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act.” The measure would advance clean energy and defend Indigenous rights and protections of water, land, air, and climate.
Introduced by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the legislation requires the United States transition to a 100% clean economy for a safe and stable climate. It sets a path to 100% renewable energy by 2035 and mandates a transition to 80% renewable energy by 2027. It also recognizes the need to place racial and economic justice at the forefront of those changes as low-wealth communities and communities of color, including Native American communities, are impacted first and worst by climate change.
“It is time for the United States to break free from its addiction to extreme energy,” said IEN Executive Director Tom Goldtooth. ”Science and traditional Indigenous knowledge knows that the only direct way to do that is a rapid just transition to sustainable, renewable energy. It’s time for us as human beings, to get back into balance with Mother Earth and Father Sky.”
The OFF Act would establish The Center for Clean Energy Workforce Development to create jobs in consultation with Tribes, Native organizations and Hawaiian Native groups whose communities are over represented in unemployment. To address Indigenous rights and sovereignty, the bill would immediately suspend applications and permits granted, approved or issued without informed and expressed consent of . It also offers a tax credit extensions for wind, offshore wind and solar energy facilities and projects and ends fossil fuel subsidies to eliminate big oil and gas company loopholes.
“Twenty-first century problems demand twenty-first century solutions,” said Congresswoman Gabbard. “By investing in green technologies and ending corporate hand outs to the fossil fuel industry, we can grow the economy, create jobs, and protect our environment. The promise of a clean energy economy is one of skilled, good-paying jobs, advanced and sustainable infrastructure, and clean and safe neighborhoods.”
Congresswoman Gabbard is leading efforts to engage Tribes and communities in both developing and implementing this groundbreaking legislation. IEN leaders say that while the legislation takes unprecedented steps to mandate a transition to renewable energy and create programs to support job development, there is still more to be done to enhance job training in Indigenous communities, tighten rules on Tribal consultation on energy projects and expand tax incentives that support clean energy projects led by Indigenous people. Indigenous leaders continue to advocate for employment opportunities and say implementation of OFF is a good first step toward creating more jobs in Indian country.
Currently, Indian country is home to 25% of U.S. superfund hazardous waste sites, but only 4% of the U.S. land base. While pipelines like Keystone XL and the Enbridge Alberta Clipper expansion attempt to bring tar sands into the U.S. directly through tribal treaty lands, 20% of people in First Nation communities living near tar sands extraction were diagnosed with cancer.
Although the bill is expected to face resistance in Congress by the GOP and by Donald Trump, Indigenous leaders and environmental activists continue building momentum to protect Mother Earth, human rights, and cultural and spiritual practices.