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Native American tribes and industry groups reach hydroelectric compromise, sending deal to Congress

At long last, Native American tribes, environmental activists, and the hydroelectric power industry have reached a deal on a legislative package that could "increase hydroelectric power production, conservation, and energy storage," The Wall Street Journal reports.

The proposed agreement arrives after four years of discussions between the various groups, who have often disagreed on issues involving "vanishing fish populations and changes to river ecosystems," the Journal writes. The growing threat of climate change, however, has brought the opponents together, helping them "find common ground to potentially expand hydroelectric power." The deal will still require congressional approval, a potentially difficult task.

Groups backing the measure include the National Hydropower Association, American Rivers, the Skokomish Tribe, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In addition to other provisions, one key component of the package shifts authority from the Department of the Interior to tribes as to the conditions "put on permits for things like the protection of tribal cultural resources or fish passage," the Journal writes.

The groups involved in the deal plan to send it to Congress and the White House on Monday.

"Tribes need to be fully at the table as critical governmental agencies whose lands and resources are impacted by these projects," Mary Pavel, member of the Skokomish Tribe of Washington and law partner at firm Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry LLP, told the Journal. "This package allows this to happen in very significant and historic ways." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.