Bill to establish energy office heads to Navajo Nation Council

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Delegate Eugene Tso, left, speaks with Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer and President Jonathan Nez after the State of the Nation address on July 15 at the tribal council summer session in Window Rock, Arizona.

FARMINGTON — Two pieces of legislation for the Navajo Nation Council to consider at the fall session this week will focus on the future of energy development for the tribe.

The first bill seeks to create an energy office within the Division of Natural Resources.

According to the bill, establishing such an office was called for in the Navajo Nation Energy Policy of 2013.

Among the office's responsibilities listed in the policy is to act as a clearinghouse for energy related projects, in addition to stimulating energy development on the Navajo Nation.

Delegate Rick Nez, who is sponsoring the bill, said the office would serve as a place for the tribe to discuss its energy future and it would assist in that development.

Returning to the council is the bill that proposes the tribe reduce its reliance on coal for generating revenue and calls for the development of renewable energy projects. It also proposed rescinding the energy policy from 2013.

Delegate Elmer Begay introduced the legislation in March.

Delegate Elmer Begay, center, is sponsoring a bill to shift the tribe's energy production from coal to renewable sources. The bill is among those listed on the fall session agenda for the Navajo Nation Council.

This is the second time the bill will go before the council. It was tabled by the council in July and referred to the Resources and Development Committee for further discussion.

The RDC had a work session on Oct. 14, where an agreement was reached with Begay that he would work with the RDC and the Háyoołkááł Work Group to have another work session to revisit the 2013 energy policy and any proposed amendments, according to a report for the regular meeting the RDC had on Oct. 16.

The Háyoołkááł Work Group is comprised of officials from the president's office and the tribe's departments of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, the Navajo Nation Washington Office and the divisions of Natural Resources, Economic Development and Community Development.

The committee report further states that the RDC approved the work session for Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Other bills from the five-page proposed agenda include legislation to move the tribe's primary election date to the first Tuesday in August in an election year.

If approved, the date would coincide with the primary election date in Arizona.

There are bills to confirm Kimberly Dutcher as deputy attorney general for the Navajo Nation and to appoint Dana Bobroff as chief legislative counsel, which is the lead attorney for the council.

Dutcher was appointed in March and has been serving as acting deputy attorney general since April.

Among Bobroff's credentials is serving as deputy attorney general from January 2011 to May 2015.

The session starts at 10 a.m. on Monday at the council chamber in Window Rock, Arizona.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Speaker Seth Damon and Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne are scheduled to present reports to the council on Monday.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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