U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Tribal Energy Program

Legal Issues

Energy development on tribal lands involves a patchwork of jurisdictional issues. The more certainty that can be brought to a project — through the adoption of tribal laws, for instance — the easier it will be to encourage developers and financiers to do business with your tribe.

Following are some of the legal issues — at tribal, federal, and state levels — that can arise when developing energy projects. Of course, jurisdictional issues vary with each tribe, so the following pages are not intended to address them all, but rather to identify those that often arise. Tribes should consult with their legal advisers before any project is undertaken.