LLNL and the Navajo Nation plan to collaborate in an array of areas including energy security; carbon sequestration; coal gasification; shale gas; enhanced oil recovery; wind, geothermal and solar; environmental studies and other areas.
The MOU comes on the heels of an upcoming newly developed policy for the Navajo Nation -- one that intends to protect the energy, natural resources and assets of the nation, create a self-sustaining economic future, and supply Navajo communities with the benefits afforded by energy development through total resource sovereignty.
"With an abundance of coal, oil, gas, uranium, water and transmission lines, the tribe's energy plan hopes to outline a better utilization of their resources," said Steve Grey, program manager at LLNL, who was instrumental in coordinating the MOU.
The technical assistance to support tribal energy initiatives and needs in areas of energy development and resource management falls under the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Strategic Tri-Laboratory Tribal Technical Team (ST4) established in 2009.
ST4 integrates and coordinates science and engineering capabilities of the national laboratories in partnership with American Indian tribes. The national laboratories are excellent resources for organizations such as tribes because they work on large science and engineering problems that the country faces.
Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories are the three (ST4) NNSA laboratories that are beginning to lay the plan to work with tribes to support them through long-term technical assistance.
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering 27,425 square miles occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah and northwestern New Mexico, with more than 300,000 members living on tribal land. American Indian tribes in the United States own about 15 percent of the natural resources in the country.
The Navajo Nation Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) made a special visit to LLNL in July 2011 to look at new technologies and discuss a formal partnership with the Laboratory through NNSA ST4.
"We are in need of national laboratory expertise to assist us with our energy portfolio," said Sam Woods, Energy Policy adviser for the Navajo President's Office. "The tribal energy plan will not only assist the tribe, but the country as well."
The MOU was signed by both parties Feb. 1 in Window Rock, Ariz.