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Renewable Energy on American Indian Land

Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the second Nicholas Institute and UPEP Environmental Institutions Seminar Series presentation of the Spring 2023 semester. Our speaker will be Dr. Bryan Leonard, associate professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Could renewable energy development on American Indian reservations earn a "double-dividend" by cutting carbon emissions while reducing poverty for tribes? This talk will explore a study that offers three insights. First, the colonial process of reservation creation left tribes with favorable wind and solar endowments, and these endowments are largest on reservations with the poorest populations. Second, despite favorable endowments, renewable projects on reservations are rare. Thus far, reservation land areas are 65% less likely to host wind facilities and 150% less likely to host solar than comparable adjacent lands. Third, if the disparity in renewable uptake persists, tribes may forego over $23 billion in landowner lease and tax earnings that could be accrued under forecasts of net-zero energy transitions by 2050. Leonard will discuss barriers that explain this investment disparity. Speaker bio available at Part of the UPEP Environmental Institutions Seminar Series, organized by the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the University Program in Environmental Policy (UPEP), a doctoral degree program jointly offered by the Nicholas School of the Environment and Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. This event is aligned with the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university's education, research, operations, and public service missions to address the climate crisis. This is an in-person event with no virtual viewing option.


Climate, Energy, Ethics, Human Rights, Law, Sustainability