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EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples


In order to more effectively work with federally-recognized tribes and indigenous peoples to address their environmental justice concerns, EPA is developing a Policy to clarify and integrate environmental justice principles in a consistent manner in the Agency’s work with federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples.

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Revised Draft of the Policy

The Agency is making available the Revised Draft – EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples (11 pp, 329K) for public input, during the May 5 - June 5, 2014 public comment period. This Revised Draft of the Policy incorporates the input the Agency received on the Working Draft of the Policy from tribes and the public during the November 2012 – February 2013 tribal consultation period and the separate January - February 2013 public participation comment period.

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Public Comments

The public comment period is from May 5 - June 5, 2014. For further information read the Public Comment Notification Letter (PDF) (1 pg, 218K).

Please note that a separate tribal consultation and coordination process is occurring at the same time, May 5 - June 5, 2014. For further information please read the Tribal Consultation Notification Letter (PDF) (4 pp, 819K).

An outreach conference call on the Policy is scheduled for Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. ET for the public. The conference call number is 1-866-299-3188, access code 202-564-2576.

Input EPA is seeking: As the Agency concludes the development of the EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples, the Agency would appreciate input from the public on the Revised Draft and on how EPA should go about implementing this Policy.

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Substantive Changes from the Working Draft

The Policy was reformatted to be more succinct in order to assist EPA staff in understanding the purpose, scope, and roles and responsibilities under this Policy. It now provides clarity on the tools EPA has to address environmental justice with federal recognized tribes and indigenous peoples. The principles articulated in the earlier working draft have basically remained the same but some were consolidated and modified for clarity. New sections were also added: policy statement, roles and responsibilities, definitions, and an appendix.

A core component missing from the original Working Draft (PDF) (9 pp, 437K) was the tangible linkages between the tribal and environmental justice programs in the form of informational and resource tools. The appendix is illustrative of the tools EPA has that can assist EPA management and staff to better understand and identify opportunities to address environmental justice concerns brought to their attention in Indian country and in other tribal areas.

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Focus Areas

EPA is promoting the integration of environmental justice principles in the following four areas in the Policy:

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Development of the Policy

EPA began the development of the Policy in 2011, with the creation of the EPA Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Environmental Justice Work Group, comprised of EPA staff, tasked with creating a draft policy. In addition, the Agency sought advice and recommendations from the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee to the EPA.

The NEJAC's Indigenous People Work Group (IPWG), comprised of tribal and indigenous EJ stakeholder representatives, assisted the NEJAC in providing advice and recommendations to EPA on how to work effectively with federally-recognized tribes and indigenous peoples to address their environmental justice issues.

The NEJAC provided the following advice and recommendations to help EPA develop an effective Policy:

The initial tribal consultation and public comments periods were held February through April, 2012, which focused on obtaining input on the four focus areas the Agency was planning for the Policy.

The second tribal consultation period, to focus on the Working Draft of the Policy, was initiated in November 2012 and concluded in February 2013, corresponding with the indigenous peoples and public comment period from January – February 2013.

The Revised Draft of the Policy was completed in April 2014, after an extensive review and thorough consideration of the tribal governments’ and public’s input on the Working Draft, as well as deliberations among and comments from the Agency’s program offices and regional offices.

You can also read EPA responses to public comments received during the public comment and tribal consultation periods below.

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"EPA must work each and every day - hand-in-hand with other federal agencies, states, tribes and local communities - to improve the health of American families and protect the environment one community at a time, all across the country." - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy


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