Event Detail

Dominic Parker

Renewable Energy on American Indian Land

Presented by:
Dominic Parker
Agricultural & Applied Economics
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Thursday, April 14, 2022
3:45 pm-5:00 pm
Taylor-Hibbard Seminar Room (Rm103)
Online - https://go.wisc.edu/esfdvx

Can renewable energy development reduce poverty on American Indian reservations? What are the opportunities and obstacles for wind and solar? We study these questions empirically and offer four findings. First, the colonial process of reservation creation – which often steered tribes from natural resources valued by European settlers – has left reservation lands disproportionately endowed with wind and solar that is technically suitable for utility-scale development. Moreover, these endowments tend to be largest on the poorest set of reservations. Second, despite favorable endowments, wind and solar projects on reservations are rare implying tribal members have yet to benefit from federal and state subsidies. Even after controlling for wind capacity, solar intensity, and proximity to transmission lines, reservation land areas are 75% less likely to host wind farms and 200% less likely to host solar farms when compared to adjacent private lands. Third, if the present disparity in renewable uptake persists through 2050, our back-of-envelop estimates suggest that tribes will forego over $24 billion (in present value terms) of royalty and tax earnings that could be accrued under aggressive net-zero forecasts of energy transitions. Fourth, within reservation areas, wind farming occurs almost exclusively on private rather than federal trust lands suggesting that federal trusteeship is an impediment to renewable energy expansion.

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