Sunday, June 25, 2017

EPA announces initiatives to increase tribal authority on environmental matters

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced several initiatives that will improve both human and environmental health on Indian Reservations, including an interagency agreement on tribal treaty rights and an expansion of the Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network program.
 
The agency issued a Memorandum of Understanding about how agencies should coordinate and collaborate to better protect tribal treaty rights as they make decisions about natural resources included in those treaties. The EPA also recently addressed water quality protections on Indian reservations, proposing the extension of Clean Water Act water quality standards to all tribes and reservations and working to give tribes more authority over water quality on their lands.
 
The LEO program, which will now extend to the lower 48 states, originated in Alaska and the Arctic region to allow local observers and topic experts to report environmental changes. The program captures traditional and local knowledge and on-the-ground observations to capture a more accurate picture of environmental conditions.
 
“The Obama Administration has worked hard to foster an abiding culture of respect for tribal sovereignty and self-determination across the federal government,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “The initiatives we are announcing today will help institutionalize the great progress we’ve made in recent years.”

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