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Indian Nations Law Update - December 2014

December 09, 2014

Godfrey & Kahn’s Environment & Energy Strategies team leader to speak at tribal energy conference

John Clancy, Godfrey & Kahn’s Environment & Energy Strategies team leader, will present on "Mutually Beneficial Projects Types, Joint Ventures and Utility Formation" at the "Tribal and Indian Country Energy Development: Collaborating for Successful Transactions" conference to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico Feb. 24-25. John will provide an overview of the models for tribal energy projects, focusing in particular on financing, joint ventures and the "flip," which provides for renewable energy facilities to be owned by a joint tribal-private venture, with investors contributing equity in exchange for tax benefits. The structure allows ownership to revert to the Tribe after six years. For more information about the conference, see

Godfrey &Kahn has extensive experience assisting tribes in transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy to achieve energy independence and reduce carbon emissions. The firm has been successful in helping tribes obtain grants and equity financing through renewable energy tax credits.

Sovereignty-enhancing projects to consider for 2015

During 2014, Godfrey & Kahn has assisted tribal clients on a wide range of initiatives. Among those that fall into the "Best Practices" category are:

• Enact a HEARTH act-compliant leasing ordinance

Under the 2012 HEARTH Act, tribes that enact a leasing ordinance conforming to the Act and obtain BIA approval are no longer required to seek BIA approval of their leases. In addition to strengthening the Tribe’s right of self-government, a HEARTH-complaint ordinance reduces delays and transaction costs and enables tribes to better serve their members.

• Implement a Seven Generations Environmental Protection strategy

Treatment-as-State status, Clean Air Act Class I status and enactment of water quality standards protect reservation natural resources and enhance tribal sovereignty by giving tribes a voice with respect to off-reservation developments that might adversely impact reservation air and water.

• Transition to renewable energy

By taking advantage of federal and state incentives, tribes can obtain financial assistance for the development of solar, wind, bio and other clean energy sources. By reducing dependence on coal-based energy from state-regulated utilities, tribes strengthen economic sovereignty, enhance credibility on environmental issues and reduce energy costs.

For more information about these initiatives, contact Brian Pierson at 414.287.9456 or

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