Ian Shavitz Quoted in Law360 on Tips for Energy Companies Working on Tribal Lands

Akin Gump senior counsel Ian Shavitz, a member of the firm’s American Indian practice, spoke with Law360 for its article “7 Tips For Energy Companies Working In Indian Country.”

Energy development on tribal lands, the article notes, is “big business” that brings with it some unique challenges. Still, annual oil and gas development royalties there are approximately $1 billion and the area is “ripe” for many large renewable projects, including wind and solar farms.

The first point to understand when negotiating with tribes, said Shavitz, is that they are sovereign governments and must be treated as such. He said he always tells developers, “when you’re making a pitch to a reservation or a tribal entity, do it in the same manner you would make it to a municipality.”

Another point to keep in mind, according to Shavitz, is that financing an energy project on tribal land is harder than doing so elsewhere because of laws that may limit the time land can be leased. “It’s especially an issue where you have a transmission line,” he said. On private land, however, Shavitz noted that there could be the option for an energy company to buy the land outright or obtain a lease for as long as 100 years.