Council of Energy Resource Tribes

Council of Energy Resource Tribes

Indian Country Today

Council of Energy Resource Tribes Enters $3 Billion Biofuels and Bioenergy Agreement

The Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), an Inter-Tribal organization comprised of 54 U.S. tribes and four First Nation Treaty Tribes of Canada, has entered into a long-term development agreement for up to $3 billion in biofuels and bioenergy projects, states a CERT press release.

Since its inception in September 1975 under the leadership of then-Navajo Nation Chairman Peter McDonald, CERT has improved the federal-Indian relationship with respect to minerals, mining, taxation and tribal jurisdiction over environmental regulation on Indian lands.

Now CERT has approved the “Thunderbird” project, which involves the development of a variety of feedstocks with multiple technologies over the next 10-15 years on Indian lands.

The project’s objective is to develop sources of energy while adhering to tenets of sustainability: preserving Native American heritage, and emphasizing social equity and environmental risk management, while creating jobs and profits for all stakeholders.

Leading the project are CERT; BioJet, a supply chain integrator that’s developing a worldwide renewable jet fuel business along with byproducts such as specialty chemicals; and Tartoosh Environmental, owned by Robert Martin, an enrolled member of the Makah Tribe, offering LEED-certified energy efficient construction and retrofitting, environmental toxin remediation and litigation, and alternative energy production on tribal lands.

All three parties have agreed to donate 10 percent of their individual net profits from the projects to the CERT TRIBES Education Program for education in science, environmental, energy and business and sustainability studies and degrees.

The Thunderbird agreement includes:

  • Use more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land for biofuel feedstocks, with by-products used as animal feed.
  • Recover existing bioenergy feedstocks, such as 5 million board feet of damaged existing timber.
  • Develop natural gas resources.
  • Use algae feedstocks as refining technologies become more economically feasible.
  • Build 10 refineries that can process up to 250 million gallons of renewable jet fuel and diesel, and 300 million gallons synthetic jet or diesel a year.
  • Build 5 waste-to-energy plants that convert waste biomass to high value energy products such as C5 molasses (used in food production), clean energy, ethanol, biochemicals, and lignin (a supplemental fuel).
  • Create Integrated Renewable Energy Parks where possible that house multiple renewable energy sources.

CERT holds “absolute control” over 30 percent of the coal west of the Mississippi River; 40 percent of known national uranium reserves, 9 percent of known national oil and gas reserves and “renewables from a land base of 56 million acres sufficient to power the U.S. for many years,” David Lester, executive director of CERT, said in the release.