U.S Code last checked for updates: Sep 18, 2019
§ 3504.
Leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way involving energy development or transmission
(a)
Leases and business agreements
In accordance with this section—
(1)
an Indian tribe may, at the discretion of the Indian tribe, enter into a lease or business agreement for the purpose of energy resource development on tribal land, including a lease or business agreement for—
(A)
exploration for, extraction of, processing of, or other development of the energy mineral resources of the Indian tribe located on tribal land;
(B)
construction or operation of—
(i)
an electric production, generation, transmission, or distribution facility (including a facility that produces electricity from renewable energy resources) located on tribal land; or
(ii)
a facility to process or refine energy resources, at least a portion of which have been developed on or produced from tribal land; or
(C)
pooling, unitization, or communitization of the energy mineral resources of the Indian tribe located on tribal land with any other energy mineral resource (including energy mineral resources owned by the Indian tribe or an individual Indian in fee, trust, or restricted status or by any other persons or entities) if the owner, or, if appropriate, lessee, of the resources has consented or consents to the pooling, unitization, or communitization of the other resources under any lease or agreement; and
(2)
a lease or business agreement described in paragraph (1) shall not require review by, or the approval of, the Secretary under section 81 of this title, or any other provision of law (including regulations), if the lease or business agreement—
(A)
was executed—
(i)
in accordance with the requirements of a tribal energy resource agreement in effect under subsection (e) (including the periodic review and evaluation of the activities of the Indian tribe under the agreement, to be conducted pursuant to subparagraphs (D) and (E) of subsection (e)(2)); or
(ii)
by the Indian tribe and a tribal energy development organization for which the Indian tribe has obtained a certification pursuant to subsection (h); and
(B)
has a term that does not exceed—
(i)
30 years; or
(ii)
in the case of a lease for the production of oil resources, gas resources, or both, 10 years and as long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities.
(b)
Rights-of-way
An Indian tribe may grant a right-of-way over tribal land without review or approval by the Secretary if the right-of-way—
(1)
serves—
(A)
an electric production, generation, transmission, or distribution facility (including a facility that produces electricity from renewable energy resources) located on tribal land;
(B)
a facility located on tribal land that extracts, produces, processes, or refines energy resources; or
(C)
the purposes, or facilitates in carrying out the purposes, of any lease or agreement entered into for energy resource development on tribal land;
(2)
was executed—
(A)
in accordance with the requirements of a tribal energy resource agreement in effect under subsection (e) (including the periodic review and evaluation of the activities of the Indian tribe under the agreement, to be conducted pursuant to subparagraphs (D) and (E) of subsection (e)(2)); or
(B)
by the Indian tribe and a tribal energy development organization for which the Indian tribe has obtained a certification pursuant to subsection (h); and
(3)
has a term that does not exceed 30 years.
(c)
Renewals

A lease or business agreement entered into, or a right-of-way granted, by an Indian tribe under this section may be renewed at the discretion of the Indian tribe in accordance with this section.

(d)
Validity

No lease or business agreement entered into, or right-of-way granted, pursuant to this section shall be valid unless the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way is authorized by subsection (a) or (b).

(e)
Tribal energy resource agreements
(1)
In general.—
(A)
Authorization.—
On or after December 18, 2018, a qualified Indian tribe may submit to the Secretary a tribal energy resource agreement governing leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way under this section.
(B)
Notice of complete proposed agreement.—
Not later than 60 days after the date on which the tribal energy resource agreement is submitted under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall—
(i)
notify the Indian tribe as to whether the agreement is complete or incomplete;
(ii)
if the agreement is incomplete, notify the Indian tribe of what information or documentation is needed to complete the submission; and
(iii)
identify and notify the Indian tribe of the financial assistance, if any, to be provided by the Secretary to the Indian tribe to assist in the implementation of the tribal energy resource agreement, including the environmental review of individual projects.
(C)
Effect.—
Nothing in this paragraph precludes the Secretary from providing any financial assistance at any time to the Indian tribe to assist in the implementation of the tribal energy resource agreement.
(2)
Procedure.—
(A)
Effective date.—
(i)
In general.—
On the date that is 271 days after the date on which the Secretary receives a tribal energy resource agreement from a qualified Indian tribe under paragraph (1), the tribal energy resource agreement shall take effect, unless the Secretary disapproves the tribal energy resource agreement under subparagraph (B).
(ii)
Revised tribal energy resource agreement.—
On the date that is 91 days after the date on which the Secretary receives a revised tribal energy resource agreement from a qualified Indian tribe under paragraph (4)(B), the revised tribal energy resource agreement shall take effect, unless the Secretary disapproves the revised tribal energy resource agreement under subparagraph (B).
(B)
Disapproval.—
The Secretary shall disapprove a tribal energy resource agreement submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) or (4)(B) only if—
(i)
a provision of the tribal energy resource agreement violates applicable Federal law (including regulations) or a treaty applicable to the Indian tribe;
(ii)
the tribal energy resource agreement does not include one or more provisions required under subparagraph (D); or
(iii)
the tribal energy resource agreement does not include provisions that, with respect to any lease, business agreement, or right-of-way to which the tribal energy resource agreement applies—
(I)
address amendments and renewals;
(II)
address the economic return to the Indian tribe under leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way;
(III)
establish requirements for environmental review in accordance with subparagraph (C);
(IV)
ensure compliance with all applicable environmental laws, including a requirement that each lease, business agreement, and right-of-way state that the lessee, operator, or right-of-way grantee shall comply with all such laws;
(V)
provide for public notification of final approvals;
(VI)
establish a process for consultation with any affected States regarding off-reservation impacts, if any, identified under subparagraph (C)(i);
(VII)
describe the remedies for breach of the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way;
(VIII)
require each lease, business agreement, and right-of-way to include a statement that, if any of its provisions violates an express term or requirement of the tribal energy resource agreement pursuant to which the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way was executed—
(aa)
the provision shall be null and void; and
(bb)
if the Secretary determines the provision to be material, the Secretary may suspend or rescind the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way or take other appropriate action that the Secretary determines to be in the best interest of the Indian tribe;
(IX)
require each lease, business agreement, and right-of-way to provide that it will become effective on the date on which a copy of the executed lease, business agreement, or right-of-way is delivered to the Secretary in accordance with regulations promulgated under paragraph (8);
(X)
include citations to tribal laws, regulations, or procedures, if any, that set out tribal remedies that must be exhausted before a petition may be submitted to the Secretary under paragraph (7)(B);
(XI)
in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (8), require that the Indian tribe, as soon as practicable after receipt of a notice by the Indian tribe, give written notice to the Secretary of—
(aa)
any breach or other violation by another party of any provision in a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way entered into under the tribal energy resource agreement; and
(bb)
any activity or occurrence under a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way that constitutes a violation of Federal environmental laws;
(XII)
include a certification by the Indian tribe that the Indian tribe has—
(aa)
carried out a contract or compact under title I or IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.) for a period of not less than 3 consecutive years ending on the date on which the Indian tribe submits the application without material audit exception (or without any material audit exceptions that were not corrected within the 3-year period) relating to the management of tribal land or natural resources; or
(bb)
substantial experience in the administration, review, or evaluation of energy resource leases or agreements or has otherwise substantially participated in the administration, management, or development of energy resources located on the tribal land of the Indian tribe; and
(XIII)
at the option of the Indian tribe, identify which functions, if any, authorizing any operational or development activities pursuant to a lease, right-of-way, or business agreement approved by the Indian tribe, that the Indian tribe intends to conduct.
(C)
Tribal energy resource agreements submitted under paragraph (1) shall establish, and include provisions to ensure compliance with, an environmental review process that, with respect to a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way under this section, provides for, at a minimum—
(i)
a process for ensuring that—
(I)
the public is informed of, and has reasonable opportunity to comment on, any significant environmental impacts of the proposed action; and
(II)
the Indian tribe provides responses to relevant and substantive public comments on any impacts described in subclause (I) before the Indian tribe approves the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way;
(ii)
a process for ensuring that—
(I)
the public is informed of, and has an opportunity to comment on, the environmental impacts of the proposed action; and
(II)
responses to relevant and substantive comments are provided, before tribal approval of the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way;
(iii)
sufficient administrative support and technical capability to carry out the environmental review process; and
(iv)
oversight by the Indian tribe of energy development activities by any other party under any lease, business agreement, or right-of-way entered into pursuant to the tribal energy resource agreement, to determine whether the activities are in compliance with the tribal energy resource agreement and applicable Federal environmental laws.
(D)
A tribal energy resource agreement between the Secretary and an Indian tribe under this subsection shall include—
(i)
provisions requiring the Secretary to conduct a periodic review and evaluation to monitor the performance of the activities of the Indian tribe associated with the development of energy resources under the tribal energy resource agreement; and
(ii)
if a periodic review and evaluation, or an investigation, by the Secretary of any breach or violation described in a notice provided by the Indian tribe to the Secretary in accordance with subparagraph (B)(iv)(XI),1
1
 So in original. Probably should be “subparagraph (B)(iii)(XI)”.
results in a finding by the Secretary of imminent jeopardy to a physical trust asset arising from a violation of the tribal energy resource agreement or applicable Federal laws, provisions authorizing the Secretary to take actions determined by the Secretary to be necessary to protect the asset, including reassumption of responsibility for activities associated with the development of energy resources on tribal land until the violation and any condition that caused the jeopardy are corrected.
(E)
Periodic review and evaluation under subparagraph (D) shall be conducted on an annual basis, except that, after the third annual review and evaluation, the Secretary and the Indian tribe may mutually agree to amend the tribal energy resource agreement to authorize the review and evaluation under subparagraph (D) to be conducted once every 2 years.
(F)
Effective period.—
A tribal energy resource agreement that takes effect pursuant to this subsection shall remain in effect to the extent any provision of the tribal energy resource agreement is consistent with applicable Federal law (including regulations), unless the tribal energy resource agreement is—
(i)
rescinded by the Secretary pursuant to paragraph (7)(D)(iii)(II); or
(ii)
voluntarily rescinded by the Indian tribe pursuant to the regulations promulgated under paragraph (8)(B) (or successor regulations).
(3)
Notice and comment; secretarial review.—
The Secretary shall provide notice and opportunity for public comment on tribal energy resource agreements submitted under paragraph (1). The Secretary’s review of a tribal energy resource agreement shall be limited to activities specified by the provisions of the tribal energy resource agreement.
(4)
Action in case of disapproval.—
If the Secretary disapproves a tribal energy resource agreement submitted by an Indian tribe under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall, not later than 10 days after the date of disapproval, provide the Indian tribe with—
(A)
a detailed, written explanation of—
(i)
each reason for the disapproval; and
(ii)
the revisions or changes to the tribal energy resource agreement necessary to address each reason; and
(B)
an opportunity to revise and resubmit the tribal energy resource agreement.
(5)
Provision of documents to secretary.—
If an Indian tribe executes a lease or business agreement, or grants a right-of-way, in accordance with a tribal energy resource agreement in effect under this subsection, the Indian tribe shall, in accordance with the process and requirements under regulations promulgated under paragraph (8), provide to the Secretary—
(A)
a copy of the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way document (including all amendments to and renewals of the document); and
(B)
in the case of a tribal energy resource agreement or a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way that permits payments to be made directly to the Indian tribe, information and documentation of those payments sufficient to enable the Secretary to discharge the trust responsibility of the United States to enforce the terms of, and protect the rights of the Indian tribe under, the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way.
(6)
Secretarial obligations and effect of section.—
(A)
In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall—
(i)
act in accordance with the trust responsibility of the United States relating to mineral and other trust resources; and
(ii)
act in good faith and in the best interests of the Indian tribes.
(B)
Subject only to the provisions of subsections (a)(2), (b), and (c) waiving the requirement of Secretarial approval of leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way executed pursuant to tribal energy resource agreements in effect under this section, and the provisions of subparagraphs (C) and (D), nothing in this section shall absolve the United States from any responsibility to Indians or Indian tribes, including, but not limited to, those which derive from the trust relationship or from any treaties, statutes, and other laws of the United States, Executive orders, or agreements between the United States and any Indian tribe.
(C)
The Secretary shall continue to fulfill the trust obligation of the United States to perform the obligations of the Secretary under this section and to ensure that the rights and interests of an Indian tribe are protected if—
(i)
any other party to a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way violates any applicable Federal law or the terms of any lease, business agreement, or right-of-way under this section; or
(ii)
any provision in a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way violates the tribal energy resource agreement pursuant to which the lease, business agreement, or right-of-way was executed.
(D)
(i)
In this subparagraph, the term “negotiated term” means any term or provision that is negotiated by an Indian tribe and any other party to a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way entered into pursuant to a tribal energy resource agreement in effect under this section.
(ii)
Notwithstanding subparagraph (B), the United States shall not be liable to any party (including any Indian tribe) for any negotiated term of, or any loss resulting from the negotiated terms of, a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way executed pursuant to and in accordance with a tribal energy resource agreement in effect under paragraph (2).
(iii)
Nothing in this section absolves, limits, or otherwise affects the liability, if any, of the United States for any—
(I)
term of any lease, business agreement, or right-of-way under this section that is not a negotiated term; or
(II)
losses that are not the result of a negotiated term, including losses resulting from the failure of the Secretary to perform an obligation of the Secretary under this section.
(7)
Petitions by interested parties.—
(A)
In this paragraph, the term “interested party” means any person (including an entity) that the Secretary determines has demonstrated with substantial evidence that an interest of the person has sustained, or will sustain, an adverse environmental impact as a result of the failure of an Indian tribe to comply with a tribal energy resource agreement of the Indian tribe in effect under paragraph (2).
(B)
After exhaustion of all remedies (if any) provided under the laws of the Indian tribe, and in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (8), an interested party may submit to the Secretary a petition to review the compliance by an Indian tribe with a tribal energy resource agreement of the Indian tribe in effect under paragraph (2).
(C)
(i)
Not later than 20 days after the date on which the Secretary receives a petition under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall—
(I)
provide to the Indian tribe a copy of the petition; and
(II)
consult with the Indian tribe regarding any noncompliance alleged in the petition.
(ii)
Not later than 45 days after the date on which a consultation under clause (i)(II) takes place, the Indian tribe shall respond to any claim made in a petition under subparagraph (B).
(iii)
The Secretary shall act in accordance with subparagraphs (D) and (E) only if the Indian tribe—
(I)
denies, or fails to respond to, each claim made in the petition within the period described in clause (ii); or
(II)
fails, refuses, or is unable to cure or otherwise resolve each claim made in the petition within a reasonable period, as determined by the Secretary, after the expiration of the period described in clause (ii).
(D)
(i)
Not later than 120 days after the date on which the Secretary receives a petition under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall determine—
(I)
whether the petitioner is an interested party; and
(II)
if the petitioner is an interested party, whether the Indian tribe is not in compliance with the tribal energy resource agreement as alleged in the petition.
(ii)
The Secretary may adopt procedures under paragraph (8) authorizing an extension of time, not to exceed 120 days, for making the determinations under clause (i) in any case in which the Secretary determines that additional time is necessary to evaluate the allegations of the petition.
(iii)
Subject to subparagraph (E), if the Secretary determines that the Indian tribe is not in compliance with the tribal energy resource agreement pursuant to clause (i), the Secretary shall only take such action as the Secretary determines necessary to address the claims of noncompliance made in the petition, including—
(I)
temporarily suspending any activity under a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way under this section until the Indian tribe is in compliance with the tribal energy resource agreement; or
(II)
rescinding all or part of the tribal energy resource agreement, and if all of the agreement is rescinded, reassuming the responsibility for approval of any future leases, business agreements, or rights-of-way described in subsection (a)(2)(A)(i) or (b)(2)(A).
(E)
Before taking an action described in subparagraph (D)(iii), the Secretary shall—
(i)
make a written determination that describes, with respect to each claim made in the petition, how the tribal energy resource agreement has been violated;
(ii)
provide the Indian tribe with a written notice of the violations together with the written determination; and
(iii)
before taking any action described in subparagraph (D)(iii) or seeking any other remedy, provide the Indian tribe with a hearing and a reasonable opportunity to attain compliance with the tribal energy resource agreement.
(F)
An Indian tribe described in subparagraph (E) shall retain all rights to appeal under any regulation promulgated by the Secretary.
(G)
Notwithstanding any other provision of this paragraph, the Secretary shall dismiss any petition from an interested party that has agreed with the Indian tribe to a resolution of the claims presented in the petition of that party.
(8)
Not later than 1 year after August 8, 2005, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations that implement this subsection, including—
(A)
a process and requirements in accordance with which an Indian tribe may—
(i)
voluntarily rescind a tribal energy resource agreement approved by the Secretary under this subsection;
(ii)
return to the Secretary the responsibility to approve any future lease, business agreement, or right-of-way under this subsection; and
(iii)
amend an approved tribal energy resource agreement to assume authority for approving leases, business agreements, or rights-of-way for development of another energy resource that is not included in an approved tribal energy resource agreement without being required to apply for a new tribal energy resource agreement;
(B)
provisions establishing the scope of, and procedures for, the periodic review and evaluation described in subparagraphs (D) and (E) of paragraph (2), including provisions for review of transactions, reports, site inspections, and any other review activities the Secretary determines to be appropriate; and
(C)
provisions describing final agency actions after exhaustion of administrative appeals from determinations of the Secretary under paragraph (7).
(9)
Effect.—
Nothing in this section authorizes the Secretary to deny a tribal energy resource agreement or any amendment to a tribal energy resource agreement, or to limit the effect or implementation of this section, due to lack of promulgated regulations.
(f)
No effect on other law
Nothing in this section affects the application of—
(1)
any Federal environmental law;
(2)
the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.); or
(3)
except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the Indian Mineral Development Act of 1982 (25 U.S.C. 2101 et seq.).
(g)
Financial assistance in lieu of activities by the Secretary
(1)
In general

(2)
Annual funding agreements

The Secretary shall make the amounts described in paragraph (1) available to an Indian tribe through an annual written funding agreement that is negotiated and entered into with the Indian tribe that is separate from the tribal energy resource agreement.

(3)
Effect of appropriations
Notwithstanding paragraph (1)—
(A)
the provision of amounts to an Indian tribe under this subsection is subject to the availability of appropriations; and
(B)
the Secretary shall not be required to reduce amounts for programs, functions, services, or activities that serve any other Indian tribe to make amounts available to an Indian tribe under this subsection.
(4)
Determination
(A)
In general

The Secretary shall calculate the amounts under paragraph (1) in accordance with the regulations adopted under section 103(b) of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017.

(B)
Applicability
The effective date or implementation of a tribal energy resource agreement under this section shall not be delayed or otherwise affected by—
(i)
a delay in the promulgation of regulations under section 103(b) of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017;
(ii)
the period of time needed by the Secretary to make the calculation required under paragraph (1); or
(iii)
the adoption of a funding agreement under paragraph (2).
(h)
Certification of tribal energy development organization
(1)
In general

Not later than 90 days after the date on which an Indian tribe submits an application for certification of a tribal energy development organization in accordance with regulations promulgated under section 103(b) of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017, the Secretary shall approve or disapprove the application.

(2)
Requirements
The Secretary shall approve an application for certification if—
(A)
(i)
the Indian tribe has carried out a contract or compact under title I or IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.); and
(ii)
for a period of not less than 3 consecutive years ending on the date on which the Indian tribe submits the application, the contract or compact—
(I)
has been carried out by the Indian tribe without material audit exceptions (or without any material audit exceptions that were not corrected within the 3-year period); and
(II)
has included programs or activities relating to the management of tribal land; and
(B)
(i)
the tribal energy development organization is organized under the laws of the Indian tribe;
(ii)
(I)
the majority of the interest in the tribal energy development organization is owned and controlled by the Indian tribe (or the Indian tribe and one or more other Indian tribes) the tribal land of which is being developed; and
(II)
the organizing document of the tribal energy development organization requires that the Indian tribe with jurisdiction over the land maintain at all times the controlling interest in the tribal energy development organization;
(iii)
the organizing document of the tribal energy development organization requires that the Indian tribe (or the Indian tribe and one or more other Indian tribes) the tribal land of which is being developed own and control at all times a majority of the interest in the tribal energy development organization; and
(iv)
the organizing document of the tribal energy development organization includes a statement that the organization shall be subject to the jurisdiction, laws, and authority of the Indian tribe.
(3)
Action by Secretary
If the Secretary approves an application for certification pursuant to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall, not more than 10 days after making the determination—
(A)
issue a certification stating that—
(i)
the tribal energy development organization is organized under the laws of the Indian tribe and subject to the jurisdiction, laws, and authority of the Indian tribe;
(ii)
the majority of the interest in the tribal energy development organization is owned and controlled by the Indian tribe (or the Indian tribe and one or more other Indian tribes) the tribal land of which is being developed;
(iii)
the organizing document of the tribal energy development organization requires that the Indian tribe with jurisdiction over the land maintain at all times the controlling interest in the tribal energy development organization;
(iv)
the organizing document of the tribal energy development organization requires that the Indian tribe (or the Indian tribe and one or more other Indian tribes the tribal land of which is being developed) own and control at all times a majority of the interest in the tribal energy development organization; and
(v)
the certification is issued pursuant this subsection;
(B)
deliver a copy of the certification to the Indian tribe; and
(C)
publish the certification in the Federal Register.
(i)
Sovereign immunity

Nothing in this section waives the sovereign immunity of an Indian tribe.

(j)
Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary such sums as are necessary for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2016 to carry out this section and to make grants or provide other appropriate assistance to Indian tribes to assist the Indian tribes in developing and implementing tribal energy resource agreements in accordance with this section.

(Pub. L. 102–486, title XXVI, § 2604, as added Pub. L. 109–58, title V, § 503(a), Aug. 8, 2005, 119 Stat. 769; amended Pub. L. 115–325, title I, §§ 103(a), 105(d), Dec. 18, 2018, 132 Stat. 4447, 4456.)
cite as: 25 USC 3504