US and International Perspectives
Edited by Raya Salter, Carmen G. Gonzalez and Elizabeth A. Kronk Warner
Chapter 7: Energy access is energy justice: the Yurok Tribe’s trailblazing work to close the Native American reservation electricity gap
7. Catherine J.K. Sandoval, Energy access is energy justice: the Yurok Tribe’s trailblazing work to close the Native American reservation electricity gap. This chapter examines the roots of energy poverty in Native American reservations through a case study of the Yurok Tribe’s path-breaking work to extend the electric grid to the Yurok Reservation in northern California. The chapter analyzes the federalist framework that contributes to the Native American electricity access gap. Since 1935 when Congress passed the Federal Power Act, the federal government has been responsible for interstate transmission and wholesale energy market regulation. However, the federal government has not assumed responsibility for funding the electric distribution infrastructure necessary to supply electricity to Native American tribes. The chapter argues that the federal government’s failure to provide safe, reliable, and sustainable energy access on Native American reservations is incompatible with existing federal policy and law. The chapter concludes with practical recommendations to foster electric grid expansion to Native American reservations consistent with both federal and State law and policy priorities.
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