Summary: H.R.538 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (10/08/2015)

Native American Energy Act

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to allow the Department of the Interior, an affected Indian tribe, or a certified third-party appraiser under contract with the Indian tribe to appraise Indian land or trust assets involved in a transaction requiring Interior approval. (Currently, Interior sets appraisal requirements.)

Interior must approve or disapprove an appraisal within 60 days or the appraisal is deemed approved.

A tribe may waive the requirement for an appraisal if it also waives any claims for damages it might have against the United States as a result of the lack of an appraisal.

(Sec. 3) Each agency within Interior involved in the review of oil and gas activities on Indian lands must use a uniform system of reference numbers and tracking systems for oil and gas wells.

(Sec. 4) This bill amends the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to make the environmental impact statement for a major federal action (excluding an action related to gaming) on Indian lands available for review and comment only to the affected tribe, individuals residing within the affected area, and state, tribal, and local governments within the affected area.

(Sec. 5) This bill sets forth provisions for the judicial review of a cause of action related to energy development on Indian land.

(Sec. 6) This bill amends the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 to direct Interior, for land under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), for land under Forest Service jurisdiction, to enter into agreements with Indian tribes to carry out demonstration projects that promote biomass energy production on Indian forest land and in nearby communities by providing tribes with reliable supplies of woody biomass from federal lands. Interior and USDA may carry out demonstration projects by which tribes may perform the functions of programs under the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004.

(Sec. 7) Activity pursuant to a tribal resource management plan or an integrated resource management plan approved by Interior under the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act or the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act is considered to be a sustainable management practice.

(Sec. 8) This bill amends the Long-Term Leasing Act to allow the Navajo Nation to enter into mineral resource leases on their restricted lands without Interior's approval. The maximum term of a Navajo Nation lease that does not require Interior's approval is extended for commercial and agricultural leases and established for mineral resource leases.

(Sec. 9) Interior rules regarding hydraulic fracturing do not apply on land held in trust for Indians or on restricted Indian land, except with the express consent of the Indian beneficiaries. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process to extract underground resources such as oil or gas from a geologic formation by injecting water, a propping agent (e.g., sand), and chemical additives into a well under enough pressure to fracture the geological formation.