Grijalva, Huffman, Hoyle Call on Administration to Prioritize Tribal Consultation for Offshore Wind

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), and Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Ore.) today led a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) urging the agency to prioritize early and meaningful engagement with tribes regarding offshore wind projects.

The Biden administration has made historic progress on climate action and clean energy development, which is revitalizing communities and has created over 271,000 jobs to date. The administration has also consistently demonstrated a commitment to strengthening nation-to-nation relationships between the federal government and tribal nations. As the lawmakers point out in their letter, tribal consultation for offshore wind development is essential to furthering both the administration’s clean energy goals and commitment to honoring tribal sovereignty.

“These tribes seek to uphold their inherent sovereign rights to safeguard their lands and waters, resources, and cultural heritage and ensure their citizens benefit from offshore wind developments. As outlined in the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders, and court decisions, the United States has a moral and legal obligation to meaningfully consult with tribes on these developments. Tribal involvement is necessary in all stages of energy projects, from permitting to development and management, with an emphasis on fair and transparent negotiation and decision-making, including the integration of Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge in these processes.”

The authors highlight five recommendations for BOEM to address tribes’ ongoing concerns with offshore wind development. They also emphasize the need for BOEM to explore options to build tribes’ capacity for consultation through direct technical assistance or other resources:

“We also urge BOEM to proactively support tribal capacity building so that all tribal governments can engage fully and meaningfully in these projects. Despite carrying Traditional Ecological Knowledge that has been honed over millennia, chronic underfunding of tribal cultural protection and historic preservation has led many tribes to have limited staff capacity and/or the technical expertise needed to timely or meaningfully consult on offshore wind projects. As part of BOEM’s legal obligation to conduct meaningful tribal consultation, the agency should explore all options available to provide tribal governments with the resources needed, including direct technical support and equitable and transparent distribution of portions of the offshore wind bid credits and revenues to tribes.”

READ the full letter to BOEM.

Additional Background

Last week, Rep. Huffman sent a letter to BOEM Director Liz Klein requesting establishment of a senior-level position in California to oversee tribal engagement in offshore wind development. Multiple tribal governments have voiced concerns about insufficient tribal consultation for offshore wind projects.