Obama Names Two Tribes Among 16 Climate Action Champions Nationwide


Indian Country Today

Two tribes are among 16 communities across the U.S. designated by President Barack Obama as Climate Action Champions, “a diverse group of communities that are defining the frontier of ambitious climate action, and their approaches can serve as a model for other communities to follow,” the White House said on December 3.

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe of California and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians each won for a diversity of efforts in preventing, preparing for and adapting to climate change.

The designees “have considered their climate vulnerabilities and taken decisive action to cut carbon pollution and build resilience,” the Obama administration said. All were winners in a nationwide competition launched by the Department of Energy during the fall that was designed to identify and recognize climate leaders as well as provide them with federal support in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The federally recognized Blue Lake Rancheriatribe of California created its climate action plan back in 2008, the White House said, calling it “a regional leader in strategically planning and implementing both climate resiliency and greenhouse gas reduction measures.”

Such measures include reducing energy consumption by 35 percent, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2018, powering public buses with biodiesel fuel and adopting other energy-efficiency initiatives.

The tribe’s overall environmental programs date back to 1997, according to its website, and are rooted in a deep-seated sense of responsibility not only to its own lands but to those outside the borders.

“The Blue Lake Rancheria’s responsibility to protect the land does not stop at the boundaries of the Rancheria,” the tribe’s environmental pagesays. “The ancestors of Tribal Membership ranged all across the spectacular landscape of Northern California. Further, they had a relationship with the land that was immediate, personal, and binding—and that relationship continues through their descendants. Respect and stewardship of the environment is a powerful tenet of the Tribe’s philosophy and operations today.”

In Michigan, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians“demonstrates a holistic approach to climate action and preparedness through their energy strategy, emergency operations plan, integrated resource management plan, solid waste management plan, sustainable development code, and land use planning process, with ambitious goals including a net-zero energy goal,” the White House said. “The tribe aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four percent per year.”

Sault Tribe Environmental Program Manager Kathie Brosemer credited the tribe’s diverse efforts in not only climate change but food security, emergency preparedness, waste reduction and other areas, she said in a statement.

“I am so proud of my administration’s Natural Resources, Health, Traditional Medicine, Housing, Law Enforcement, and Planning in pulling together our call to action to protect our Aki (Mother Earth),” said Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment in the Sault Ste. Marie statement. “I appreciate the President recognizing our excellence.”

Each community will be mentored and coached by other experts from various federal programs, the White House statement said. In addition, each one will be assigned a coordinator to act as a liaison between the federal agencies, national organizations and foundations that are supporting the designees. The coordinator will also scout out and notify the champions of any funding and technical assistance that they are eligible for.

Such support includes tribal-focused technical assistance geared specifically toward the two designated communities. The two tribes will be eligible to participate in the DOE Office of Indian Energy Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) program, which provides in-depth technical know-how. Other customized technical assistance will be offered as well, the administration said, along the lines of support for projects and programs that promote the development of clean, efficient energy.

RELATED: Ten Tribes Receive Department of Energy Clean-Energy Technical Assistance

Meet DOE Tribal Energy Expert David Conrad


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/12/05/obama-names-two-tribes-among-16-climate-action-champions-nationwide-158145

Obama takes on coal with first-ever carbon limits


Coal power plant
Photo source: Wiki

September 19, 2013

By DINA CAPPIELLO — Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Linking global warming to public health, disease and extreme weather, the Obama administration pressed ahead Friday with tough requirements to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, despite protests from industry and from Republicans that it would mean a dim future for coal.

The proposal, which sets the first national limits on heat-trapping pollution from future power plants, would help reshape where Americans get electricity, moving from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy. It’s also a key step in President Barack Obama’s global warming plans, because it would help end what he called “the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” from power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said in a speech Friday morning to announce the proposal that, rather than damage an industry, the proposed regulations would help the industry to grow.

McCarthy pressed her case by linking global warming to a suite of environmental problems, from severe weather to disease to worsening other types of air pollution.

“We know this is not just about melting glaciers,” McCarthy said. “Climate change – caused by carbon pollution – is one of the most significant public health threats of our time. That’s why EPA has been called to action.”

However, since the proposal deals with only new power plants it will have a limited effect on global emissions of heat-trapping pollution. A separate standard for the existing fleet of power plants, the largest source of carbon pollution, is due next summer.

Despite some tweaks, the rule packs the same punch as one announced last year, which was widely criticized by industry and by Republicans as effectively banning any new coal-fired power plants.

That’s because to meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost.

Coal, which is already struggling to compete with cheap natural gas, accounts for 40 percent of U.S. electricity, a share that was already shrinking. And natural gas would need no additional pollution controls to comply.

“It is clear that the EPA is continuing to move forward with a strategy that will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants,” said Bruce Josten, the vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Follow Dina Cappiello on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dinacappiello

Responsibility to Future Generations: Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands

David Agnew, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, meets with leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians and the Moapa Solar Project. (by Eric Lee)
David Agnew, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, meets with leaders of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians and the Moapa Solar Project. (by Eric Lee)

David Agnew, www.whitehouse.gov

Today, the President announced his comprehensive plan to cut the carbon pollution that is changing our climate and affecting public health.  Reducing carbon pollution will keep our air and water clean and safe for our kids and grandkids.  It will also create jobs in the industries of the future as we modernize our power plants to produce cleaner forms of American-made energy that reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  And it will lower home energy bills and begin to slow the effects of climate change.

While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we need to begin preparing to leave a safe and clean planet to our children.  Last weekend, in the desert northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, I had the privilege of visiting a project that is already working to meet the challenges laid out today in the President’s Climate Action Plan.  The intense desert heat and bright sun made it crystal clear to anyone who stepped outside that this location has plenty of solar energy to harness.

The Moapa Solar Project, on the Moapa River Indian Reservation, is a 350 megawatt solar energy project that will help power over 100,000 homes and generate 400 jobs at peak construction.   The Moapa Paiute tribe has set aside approximately 2,000 acres of their 72,000 acre Reservation for the project, including some acreage to ensure a protected habitat for the endangered desert tortoises living near the project. A commitment to protect their tribal homelands from the effects of existing power sources led this tribe to gain approval from the Secretary of the Interior in 2012 for construction of the first utility-scale solar project on tribal lands.  As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Moapa Solar project will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil while creating good jobs in the heart of Indian Country – jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

The 56 million acres of tribal lands in the United States hold great potential for solar, wind and geothermal projects, and the Obama Administration remains committed to working with tribes on a government-to-government basis to help break down the barriers to clean energy development.  The passage of the HEARTH Act and the recently updated Department of the Interior regulations to streamline leasing on tribal lands are returning greater control over land use decisions to tribes, and individual landowners are already helping to promote housing and economic development throughout Indian Country.  The Moapa Solar Project holds valuable lessons that we will look to as we seek to encourage additional clean energy projects on tribal lands.

While visiting the site of the Moapa Solar Project, I also had the pleasure of meeting a dedicated group of tribal leaders and project managers who are working hard to make this project a reality.  I appreciated their hospitality on a hot Saturday afternoon.  All the best to Chairman Anderson, and a warm thank you to Vice Chairman Lee, Environmental Coordinator Darren Daboda, the Moapa Tribal Council and other tribal leaders who are working hard to bring clean energy and good jobs to their community.  I applaud the Moapa Tribe’s leadership, vision and perseverance, and wish them all the best in this exciting endeavor.

David Agnew is the Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.