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Indian Nations Law Update - January 2014

January 15, 2014

Great Lakes Tribal Renewable Energy Conference February 20-21, 2014 to Focus on Energy Independence, Environmental Protection and Financing Sources
Law Seminars International will present “Tribal Energy Development in the Great Lakes,” a two-day conference to be held February 20-21, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Milwaukee, a city known for its Calatrava Art Museum, Discovery World Museum, Harley-Davidson museum, Potawatomi Bingo Casino, fine restaurants, stunning lakefront parks, semi-tropical February weather and much more. Godfrey & Kahn Indian Nations Law team leader Brian Pierson and Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeffrey Crawford will serve as co-chairs.

Nothing is more critical to the well-being of tribal communities and their economic development than a secure and affordable source of energy. Tribal governments need it to provide health care, housing and a broad array of other services to members. Tribal enterprises use vast quantities of it to run their casinos, hotels and other businesses. Tribal members depend on it to heat, cool and light their homes. Yet today Midwest tribes must rely for their energy on off-reservation, state-regulated utilities.

If your tribe is interested in energy alternatives that strengthen sovereignty and promote tribal values, please join us. Our faculty of tribal leaders, energy industry professionals and experienced attorneys will address the unique challenges and opportunities that face Midwest tribes and provide answers to key questions:

  • How does carbon-based energy production impact the woods, lakes and streams of Indian country, the health of tribal members and their ability to engage in, and pass on, traditional activities?
  • How does energy independence strengthen tribal sovereignty?
  • How can tribes pursue energy development consistent with their Seven Generations ethic?
  • What energy resources are available to Great Lakes tribes? What factors should a tribe consider when choosing among solar, wind, biomass and other technologies?
  • What are the economics of renewable energy versus carbon-based energy? In other words, how soon does a reservation renewable energy project “pay for itself”?
  • What energy projects are Great Lakes tribes pursuing today that can serve as models for other tribes?
  • What federal, state and private sources of funding are available to tribes for energy resource development?
  • How can tribes partner with private parties to take advantage of renewable energy tax credits and other tax benefits?
  • What regulatory hurdles impede reservation energy development and how can tribes overcome them?

We have planned this conference to be not only highly informative but also informal, interactive, exciting and enjoyable. The faculty expects to learn not only from each other but from attendees. Our hope is that, as a result, the Great Lakes tribes will take a large step toward energy sovereignty together.

For more information, including the draft agenda and registration information, visit the LSI website here.

Godfrey & Kahn’s 25th Annual Labor & Employment Law Seminars in May
Godfrey & Kahn’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group will present its Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminars in May at three locations throughout the state of Wisconsin. The seminar will include an update on recent changes in federal and state employment law, a discussion of best practices, and practical approaches to managing employment law problems. Locations and dates are:

  • Wednesday, May 7 - Milwaukee (Marriott Milwaukee West)
  • Tuesday, May 13 - Madison (Monona Terrace)
  • Thursday, May 15 - Green Bay (Lambeau Field Atrium)

The seminar, which is offered free of charge, is designed to serve the needs of executives, in-house counsel, human resource professionals and front-line supervisors. Godfrey & Kahn has applied for 3 recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). We have applied for approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for 3 hours of Wisconsin mandatory CLE credits.

To register or for more information or questions, please contact Jessica Akright, at 414.287.9311 or

BIA Solicits Grant Applications For Tribal Energy Development
The Interior Department’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) published two solicitations for proposals in the Federal Register December 20, 2013. The first would provide funding for projects that explore for energy and mineral resources, assess known resources or promote the use and development of known energy and mineral resources. The second solicitation is issued under the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Tribal Energy Development Capacity (TEDC) grant program, which is intended to help tribes:

  • Determine the current level of a tribe’s or tribal energy resource development organization’s technical, administrative, or management capacity for identified energy resource development activities;
  • Determine which technical, administrative, or management capacities for tribal energy resource development need enhancement; and
  • Determine what procedures may be used to eliminate capacity gaps or obtain the development of energy resources development capacity (including training and policy and code development).

Eligible activities include developing a tribe’s capacity for:

  • Reviewing proposals for leases, business agreements, or rights-of-way;
  • Negotiating and reviewing leases, business agreements, or rights-of-ways;
  • Evaluating the environmental effects of energy resource development projects the applicant may enter into, including those related to cultural resources;
  • Monitoring the compliance of a third party with the terms and conditions of any leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way the applicant may enter into;
  • Establishing or managing energy development-related departments or administrative divisions within the tribe or tribal energy resource development organization;
  • Providing for energy development-related technical, scientific, and/or engineering expertise within the tribe or tribal energy resource development organization; and
  • Developing or enhancing tribal policies, codes, regulations, or ordinances related to regulating energy resource development

Grant proposals must be submitted by February 14, 2014. See 78 Fed. Reg. 77155, 78 Fed. Reg. 77161.

Godfrey & Kahn has extensive experience assisting tribes seeking to achieve energy independence, reduced energy costs through adoption of renewable energy sources and financing of renewable energy projects. For more information, contact Indian Nations Practice Group leader Brian Pierson at or 414.287.9456 or Environment & Energy Strategies Practice Group leader John Clancy at or 414.287.9256.

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