The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership Act of 2012 (HEARTH Act) offers a voluntary, more efficient land-leasing process for Tribes by amending the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955, 25 U.S.C. Sec. 415.
Under the HEARTH Act, once Tribes' governing Tribal leasing regulations are submitted to and approved by the Secretary of the Interior, they are authorized to negotiate and enter into surface leases under their approved HEARTH Act regulations without further approval from the Department of the Interior.
In support of Tribal self-determination, the Secretary encourages interested Tribes to submit their regulations to the Division of Real Estate Services (DRES) Central Office.
Tribal HEARTH Act regulations must be consistent with BIA’s leasing regulations in 25 CFR Part 162 (not a meets & exceeds standard):
Provide for an environmental review process that includes:
- Identification and evaluation of the significant effects of the proposed lease on the environment.
- A period for public notice and comment related to any significant impacts of the proposed lease on the environment.
- The tribe’s response to relevant and substantive public comments on environmental impacts, prior to tribal approval of the lease.
May only authorize the following lease types:
- Wind and solar lease (WSR)
- Wind Energy Evaluation leases (WEEL)
- Public, religious, educational, or recreational leases
Must only apply to tribal trust and/or restricted land, not to lands held in trust for individual Indian landowners, fee lands or fractionated interests.
May address tribal authority to approve leasehold mortgages, but not mortgages of tribal land.
Must not authorize exploration, development, or extraction of any mineral resources.
What are the Benefits of Tribal HEARTH Act Leasing Regulations?
Economic Development – A Streamlined Leasing Process
- May significantly reduce the time to execute and approve leases compared to existing BIA processes.
- Timely execution of leases may encourage potential lessees to invest and develop in tribal communities.
Tribal Land Management
- Tribes may enact regulations that are tailored to the unique needs of the Tribe’s community.
Access to 25 CFR Part 162
- If a tribe with leasing regulations under the HEARTH Act believes a particular lease would be better supported under 25 CFR Part 162, the lease may be submitted for BIA review and Secretarial approval under the CFR.
- Leases approved under Part 162, and any amendments, assignments, etc., will remain subject to Part 162 until lease termination or expiration.