Indian Affairs Introduces Bill To Expand Tribal Lease Authority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Committee, introduced the Unlocking Native Lands and Opportunities for Commerce and Key Economic Developments Act (UNLOCKED Act). The bill would authorize all federally recognized tribes to issue leases of up to 99 years and affirm tribal authority to issue rights-of-way to eliminate barriers to tribal infrastructure and economic development projects.

“Congress provided the most funding ever for tribal energy and infrastructure development through the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Chairman Schatz. “But existing statutory barriers prevent tribes from effectively using these historic resources. Our bill would remove those barriers and unlock the door to more tribal economic development.”

“Our bill provides tribes with the needed certainty to better plan and execute economic development projects,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “If enacted, Congress will no longer have to pass stand-alone legislation to allow for such long-term leasing as it has done 59 times since 1955 or wait for BIA to approve rights of way applications. It is time we eliminate the red tape and allow for tribal self-determination so that we can fully implement the programs in the bipartisan infrastructure law without unnecessary delays.”