At the National Tribal Caucus Executive Committee meeting, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the agency recently completed it 500th tribal consultation under its Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes (2011).
“Today, we recognize EPA’s 500th tribal consultation, which reflects our history of meaningful engagement between EPA and Tribal Governments,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This milestone demonstrates the importance of EPA’s relationship with Tribal Governments and reflects our commitment to strengthen environmental protections in tribal lands so all Americans, regardless of where they live, have access to clean air, water, and land.”
EPA’s consultation policy builds on the agency’s groundbreaking Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations (1984) to identify opportunities for engaging and consulting with tribes. EPA consults with tribes on a wide-range of activities including: rules, permits, policies, and other decisions that may affect tribal interests. This milestone was an agency-wide effort achieved over the past eight years.
EPA defines consultation as the process of meaningful communication and coordination between EPA and tribal officials prior to EPA taking action or implementing decisions that may affect tribes.
EPA developed the Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System (TCOTS) in conjunction with the policy to ensure that all related information for each consultation is available to tribes in a timely manner prior to the consultation. This information includes the scope of the consultation, start and end dates, and an individual contact within EPA. This one-stop shop for EPA tribal consultation opportunities and information greatly facilitates the consultation process and its ultimate effectiveness for both EPA and the tribes.
In addition to tribal consultation under the EPA Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes, EPA maintains frequent and regular communications and coordination activities with tribes to identify and implement human health and environmental protection solutions.