While the Solar Energy Program reflects and incorporates input from Indian tribes, the BLM considers tribal consultation to be an open-ended and ongoing process.
As part of the Solar PEIS process, the BLM consulted and engaged with tribes through various means in order to meet the agency's affirmative responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Executive Order 13175 (“Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”), the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and other statutes.
Beginning in June 2008, the BLM wrote to 316 tribes, chapters, and bands with a potential interest in solar energy development on BLM-administered lands in the six-state area. The BLM provided information on the Solar PEIS, invited them to be cooperating parties, and requested government-to-government consultation. Such communication continued in July 2009, October 2011, March and April 2012, and August 2012. Maps, information, Web links, Question and Answer Fact Sheets, CDs of the PEIS, and hard copies of the Supplement to the Draft PEIS were provided and feedback sought.
The BLM conducted numerous face-to-face meetings with tribes throughout the PEIS process, and such consultation continues. The agency issued Instruction Memorandum WO IM 2012-032 in December 2011 and held face-to-face meetings with tribes that had provided feedback on the Draft Solar PEIS. Meetings focused on tribal comments and concerns, the content and purpose of the Supplement, the policies enumerated in the Question and Answer Fact Sheet, Section 106 procedures proposed in the Solar Programmatic Agreement (PA), and time frames for completing the PEIS. As explained on the NHPA-Section 106 Consultation page, the Final Solar PA was signed and executed among the BLM, the six State Historic Preservation Officers in AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, and UT, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in September 2012. The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe signed the PA as a concurring party.
The BLM considers tribal consultation to be an open-ended and ongoing process. For future solar energy projects on lands administered by the BLM (including projects in SEZs), field office cultural staff, in consultation with their Deputy Preservation Officer, will provide responsible BLM line officers with recommendations as to whether to collect additional archeological or ethnographic data. These recommendations will be based on dialog resulting from government-to-government consultation and the active involvement of tribes in the evaluation of individual projects in SEZs and for establishment of new SEZs. Should new ethnographic research, studies, or interviews be recommended, the BLM cultural staff, in consultation with tribal officials, will provide guidance to BLM line officers about the appropriate scope of work, provisions for safeguarding data confidentiality, and programs of mitigation.
Regional Mitigation Strategies will be developed, first as a prototype for the Dry Lake SEZ in Nevada, and then for all SEZs. As part of this process, the BLM will consult with Indian tribes, State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to devise more effective methods of soliciting and considering tribal views on the effects of solar energy development on historic properties, traditional cultural properties, landscapes, and resources important in traditional tribal practices and beliefs.
As part of the development of the Solar PEIS, in 2011 the BLM completed ethnographic reports on tribal issues, concerns, and important sacred and traditional properties within nine proposed SEZs in Nevada and Utah. The tribally-approved ethnographic reports describing resources and issues of concern to tribes can be found on the Ethnographic Analyses page of the Solar PEIS website and are linked to through the individual SEZ pages on this website. The BLM wrote to all tribes in October 2011 to share the ethnographic reports and ask other tribes if they would identify sites of a similar nature and concern to them.