Last week was something of a roller coaster ride for the US Department of Energy and a little known federal agency called the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. It began on a low note when Energy Secretary Rick Perry told a CNBC interviewer that the climate change denial position is legit, bounced up with the announcement of a new round of clean tech funding for Native American communities, then fell back down again when Perry continued to press the denialist case — during a Congressional hearing, no less.
That’s bad enough, but while all this was going on the director of IEPP, William C. Bradford, began taking heat when news surfaced that his Twitter account was spiced with offensive tweets prior to his appointment…and now it looks like there’s audio, too.
News about the Bradford tweets began burning up the Intertubes last Thursday. The audio broadcast, which occurred last February on the alt-right station Global Patriot Radio (formerly Radio Jihad), will probably light things up all over again.
Perry’s comments have garnered a lot of traction, too. He could have walked back his position after Monday’s CNBC interview but he dug himself into a veritable bottomless pit of ridiculousness after Minnesota Senator Al Franken tore into him during Thursday’s budget hearing.
So much for the bad news. The good news is that despite the steady stream of pro-coal rhetoric coming from the Trump Administration, Perry’s Department of Energy continues to promote renewables, and last week’s news from IEPP is a case in point.
…Good News From The Office Of Indian Energy Policy And Programs
The latest good news from IEPP involves a new group of 13 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for tribal communities in the contiguous US and for Alaska Native villages.
The total is a somewhat modest amount of $7.8 million but in this case a little goes a long way.
Here’s the now-in-hot-water head of IEPP, William Bradford himself, enthusing over the impact:
These projects, consistent with President Trump’s America First Energy Plan and the vision Secretary Perry has for Indian Country, will install 6.3 megawatts of new energy generation for more than 3,000 tribal buildings and homes across the nation, and save benefitted communities more than $2 million each year…These energy development and efficiency projects will provide economic benefits to American Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages for many years to come.
The wording of Bradford’s official statement echoes the line that Perry has been walking under the Trump Administration, which basically consists of following through on renewable energy initiatives and clean tech while declaring support for President Trump and his loyal base.
After last week it’s not clear how much longer Perry and his staff can sustain the balancing act, but in the meantime IEPP is forging ahead with its mission.
Among the 13 new projects are a group of three net-zero, solar-enabled buildings for the Akwesasne Housing Authority in New York, a new wind turbine providing electricity for about 2,900 buildings in three Alaska communities, and a community-scale biomass project for the Huslia Tribal Council in Arkansas.
IEPP also took the opportunity to link to its Tribal Energy Projects Successes page, where interested readers will find a great infographic summarizing the office’s progress followed by highlighted stories from under the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration, too.
More Good News!
The latest funding round follows close on the heels of another group of IEPP projects focusing on renewables and efficiency. That round was announced on May 30, and Bradford provided the following statement for the occasion:
Within every challenge can be found the seeds of opportunity, and I believe tribes are well positioned to cultivate these seeds through visionary leadership and strategic energy planning…our hope is that by funding these initial steps, the foundation will be laid for these Indian tribes to find energy solutions that work for their communities.
That sounds pretty good, right?
The May 30 round of funding focuses on helping communities lay the groundwork for the kind of projects funded in the June 22 announcement:
Under these awards, these Native American communities will conduct energy options analyses; establish baseline energy use and efficiency options; develop energy organizations; conduct resiliency planning; establish policy, regulations, and codes; and obtain skills and training to promote energy efficiency and development.
Renewable energy NGOs are also beginning to focus on Native American communities, such as Grid Alternatives and The Solutions Project, which provided solar trailers to the Dakota Access pipeline protest site last year.
Image (screenshot): via US Department of Energy.
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