The Indian Energy Service Center (IESC) is responsible for administering the certification of Tribal Energy Resource Agreements (TERAs) and Tribal Energy Development Organizations (TEDOs).
Both TERAs and TEDOs strengthen Tribal sovereignty and improve the efficiency of energy development by removing the barrier of Department of the Interior (DOI) approval for individual leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way for energy projects on Tribal lands.
Tribal Energy Resource Agreements
A Tribal Energy Resources Agreement (TERA) is an agreement between a Tribe and DOI for the Tribe to manage leasing, business agreements, and rights-of-way for the purposes of developing energy resources on Tribal land.
TERAs are comprehensive documents which must include details on:
- The scope of the land and energy resources included in the agreement,
- Legal procedures and limitations on leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way,
- Provisions for environmental impact, oversight, and record-keeping for leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way.
Applying for TERA certification is a multi-step process. To begin, a designated Tribal official must contact IESC at TERA@bia.gov to request a pre-application consultation. During the pre-application consultation meeting, IESC will discuss the scope of the TERA application process, the timeline for TERA certification, and provide guidance on financial assistance for implementing a TERA.
A full list of TERA requirements is contained in 25 CFR 224.63.
Once a TERA has been certified by DOI, the Tribe may approve their own leases, business agreements, and rights-of-way with third parties on the Tribal land without receiving DOI approval for individual actions.
Tribal Energy Development Organizations
Tribal Energy Development Organizations (TEDOs) are business organizations engaged in energy resource development on trust land that are majority-owned by the Tribe with jurisdiction over the land.
To apply for TEDO certification a Tribe must submit an application package with all supporting documents in searchable portable document format (PDF) to TERA@bia.gov, containing all items outlined in 25 CFR 224.201:
- The Tribe has carried out a contract or compact under title I or IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.) for a period of not less than 3 consecutive years ending on the date on which the Tribe submits the application, and the contract or compact:
- Has been carried out by the Tribe without material audit exceptions (or without any material audit exceptions that were not corrected within the 3-year period); and
- Has included programs or activities relating to the management of Tribal land;
- The TEDO is organized under the Tribe's laws;
- The majority of the interest in the TEDO is owned and controlled by the Tribe (or the Tribe and one or more other Tribes) the Tribal land of which is being developed; and
- The TEDO's organizing document:
- Requires the Tribe with jurisdiction over the land to maintain, at all times, the controlling interest in the TEDO;
- Requires the Tribe (or the Tribe and one or more other Tribes the Tribal land of which is being developed) to own and control, at all times, a majority of the interest in the TEDO; and
- Includes a statement that the TEDO is subject to the jurisdiction, laws, and authority of the Tribe.
Please note that there is no TEDO application form. A Tribe’s TEDO application is a collection of documents that contains evidence of the four points mentioned above, emailed to TERA@bia.gov.
Within 90 days of receiving an application for certification of a TEDO, DOI will approve the application if it contains all required document, or disapprove the application if it is incomplete.
Once a TEDO is certified by DOI it may enter into a lease, business agreement, or right-of-way with the Tribe without individual DOI approval of the action, as long as the individual lease, agreement, or right-of-way is within the scope of energy resource development as defined by 25 CFR 224.84-86.
On March 16, 2022, the Department of the Interior’s Office for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs announced that Twenty-First Century Tribal Energy, majority-owned by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, became the first certified Tribal Energy Development Organization (TEDO).