Principles to Advance Energy Justice for Native Americans


21 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2021

Date Written: October 1, 2020


On many Native American reservations, lack of energy access reduces economic, health, and educational opportunities. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in 2000 that 14% of households on Native American reservations had no access to electricity, compared to 1.4% nationally. Neither the EIA, nor the U.S. Census Bureau have published reliable updates on the status of the Native American Reservation electricity gap. While several projects led by Native American tribes have narrowed the Native American reservation electricity gap, thousands of households and institutions serving tribal members in the United States remain without electric grid access in 2020. The electric grid’s absence fuels lack of access to infrastructure interconnected with electricity including water, water treatment, telephone, and Internet facilities and services. Enabling electricity access will improve fire safety, water and wastewater access and treatment, telecommunications access, health, educational, economic, and civic opportunity.

This article proposes six principles to advance energy justice for Native Americans:

Principle 1: Respect Tribal Sovereignty;

Principle 2: Energy Access is Foundational to Energy
Justice; Principle

3: Foster Tribal Energy Ownership and Clean Energy Opportunities; Principle

4: Support Native American Energy Contracting, Employment, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities; Principle

5: Promote Access to Energy Efficiency and Energy Affordability Programs; Principle

6: Assess and Address the Impact of Climate Change on Native American Reservations, Tribal Lands, and Native American Tribal Members. This article concludes that fostering energy justice for Native Americans will improve prospects for all Americans, advance our economy, protect the environment, and promote equity.

Keywords: Infrastructure, Native Americans, Electricity, Telecommunications, Internet, Water, Economic Opportunity, Tribal Sovereignty, Energy Justice, Environmental Justice, Climate Justice, Economic Justice, Social Justice, Energy Efficiency

JEL Classification: H41, H54, H89, I18, I24, I28, K23, 018, P28, P48, Q4, Q48, Q55, Q58, R52

Suggested Citation

Sandoval, Catherine J.K., Principles to Advance Energy Justice for Native Americans (October 1, 2020). EBA BRIEF, OCTOBER 2020, , Available at SSRN: or

Catherine J.K. Sandoval (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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