EPA's Tribal Strategy
Strategic Plan for Tribal Programs
EPA Region 10 is committed to protecting human health and the environment throughout the Region, including the lands and resources of Indian tribes, while supporting tribal self-government, fulfilling the federal trust responsibility, and strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the tribes of our Region and EPA. In general terms, this commitment is guided by EPA Region 10's responsibilities for environmental protection within Indian country and of tribal resources that are outside of Indian country (including treaty-protected usual & accustomed hunting and fishing areas and subsistence areas under state and federal jurisdiction). First, the Agency is responsible for direct implementation of environmental protection programs where EPA has not approved a tribe to run a federal program. Second, EPA has oversight responsibility both within and outside of Indian country concerning activities that affect tribal resources. Third, it is EPA’s policy to strengthen tribal governments’ management of environmental programs by assisting tribal governments to build the capacity to determine the future quality of their environment. EPA Region 10 recognizes that it has the discretion to decide how to administer those laws, and will consult with tribal governments as EPA implements federal environmental programs. The Region 10 Strategic Plan for Tribal Programs (hereinafter “Tribal Strategy”) was developed to address these responsibilities and provide a useful tool for measuring progress toward that end.
The Region 10 Tribal Strategy is comprised of two fundamental elements. First, the Tribal Strategy establishes the Region’s vision, mission and overarching Regional policy goals for environmental protection activities with tribes. Second, the Strategy calls for the development of specific office work plans (updated annually) that further implement the Regional policy goals and establish specific objectives and action items for Strategy implementation. Each office work plan shall incorporate all other agency tribal planning objectives and initiatives, where appropriate, including the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) targets and national office tribal strategies. The Region is committed to achieve all strategic goals and objectives established in each office work plan. Consistent with the time frame for EPA’s GPRA targets, the Region has established the year 2005 for full Tribal Strategy implementation. Both the strategy and office work plans are living documents. As a result, each document is subject to continued development and refinement as priorities and variables change.
As part of the EPA’s direct federal implementation and oversight responsibilities, the EPA Region 10 has a trust responsibility to each of the 267 federally recognized Indian tribes within the Region. The trust responsibility stems from various legal authorities including the U.S. Constitution, Treaties, statutes, executive orders, and historical relations with Indian tribes. In general terms, the trust responsibility requires the Agency to consider the interest of tribes in planning and decision making processes. To accomplish this the President and Administrator have issued a number of specific directives to assist the Agency in meeting its trust responsibility to tribes. (See, 1984 EPA Indian Policy and Implementation Guidance; Administrator Browner’s March 1994 memorandum, “Actions for Strengthening Tribal Operations”; President Clinton’s April 29, 1994 memorandum, “Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments”; and Executive Order 13084, “Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments”.) In summary, each office is mandated to establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in the development of Agency decisions. Moreover, on issues relating to tribal self-government, trust resources, or treaty and other rights, E.O. 13084 mandates each office to explore the use of consensus decision making mechanisms for developing regulations, including negotiated rule-making.
In fulfilling the Region’s trust responsibility and while considering the interest of tribes in all aspects of EPA’s work, each office must interact with tribes on a government-to-government basis consistent with the inherent sovereignty of each tribe. The concept of tribes as sovereign nations was written into the United States Constitution and has been affirmed by the Courts, Congress (through treaties and statutes), and the President, pursuant to Executive orders and other directives. As a result, EPA Region 10 will follow certain protocols in recognition of the government-to-government relationship. Although the Agency’s approach for maintaining a government-to-government relationship may vary from tribe to tribe, there are certain fundamental elements that will be used to guide the Region in working with tribes.
Following the principles of the government-to-government relationship, EPA Region 10 will endeavor to:
- consult with tribal governments during planning and decision making if such decisions affect the lands and resources of tribes, both on tribal lands and in treaty resource and subsistence areas;
- partner with affected tribes in assessing the impact of Agency plans, projects, programs and activities on tribal trust resources, and ensure that tribal governments rights and concerns are considered during the development of such plans, projects, programs, and activities;
- remove any procedural impediments to working directly and effectively with tribal governments, and take appropriate steps to increase flexibility and streamline EPA requirements that relate to tribal governments;
- consider each tribal government as a distinct entity exercising sovereign powers, and ensure communications are directed to tribal leaders, as well as tribal staff; and
- coordinate with other federal departments and agencies, where appropriate, and encourage cooperation between tribal, state, and local governments to resolve environmental issues of mutual concern .
Region 10's vision is to fulfill EPA’s trust responsibility to each of the 267 regional Federally recognized Indian tribes by working with the tribes to protect human health and restore the environments of Indian tribes, both within Indian country and concerning tribal resources that are outside of Indian country (including usual & accustomed hunting and fishing areas and subsistence areas under state and federal jurisdiction).
The mission of the Region 10 Tribal Program is to protect and restore the lands and environmental resources of Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska for present and future generations.
1. Fully meet our responsibility for government-to-government relations with tribes in all aspects of the Region’s work.
2. Accomplish all direct implementation responsibilities, both within Indian country and concerning tribal resources that are outside of Indian country (including usual & accustomed hunting and fishing areas and subsistence areas under state and federal jurisdiction).
3. Provide full program delegation and capacity building opportunities for tribes.
4. Increase permanent resource commitments for tribal workload and strategy implementation.
5. Ensure our resources are used as efficiently as possible, our work is targeted to address the highest priority needs, and our organizational structure supports enhanced tribal activities.
Goal 1. Fully meet our responsibility for government-to-government relations with tribes in all aspects of the Region’s work
1a. Objective: Each office, working with the Tribal Office and the other offices, develops consultation procedures that facilitate our ability to work with tribes on a government-to-government basis.
1b. Objective : Region 10 managers participate in annual tribal leaders conference and tribal leadership forums.
1c. Objective: Each office trains staff on procedures for government-to-government consultation.
Goal 2. Accomplish all direct federal implementation, both within Indian country and concerning tribal resources that are outside of Indian country (including usual & accustomed hunting and fishing areas and subsistence areas under state and federal jurisdiction).
1d. Objective: Region 10 negotiates tribal support workplans with tribes in response to their requests for support through tribal environmental action plans.
2a. Objective: Each office creates an inventory of their direct implementation responsibilities in Indian country and updates it annually.
2b. Objective: Region 10 provides mechanisms by which each tribe can identify, to EPA, its priorities for direct federal implementation of environmental programs.
2c. Objective: Each office develops a work plan to accomplish EPA and tribal direct implementation priorities.
2d. Objective: Region 10 assesses environmental conditions to identify environmental health threats that may be unique to tribes and their members, e.g., contamination of subsistence food chains, fish consumption studies.
Goal 3. Provide full program approval and capacity building opportunities for tribes.
2e. Objective: Region 10 develops a tribally-based risk communication model for EPA programs.
3a. Objective: Each office identifies all programs which tribes are eligible to administer.
3b. Objective: Region 10 provides mechanisms by which each tribe can identify, to EPA, its priorities for capacity building including full program approval.
3c. Objective: Where Region 10 and a tribe agree that an EPA-approved tribal program is appropriate, conduct the legal, technical, and policy work needed by a tribe to develop tribal applications and by EPA to approve the tribal program
3d. Objective: Region 10 provides training, site visits, and other assistance to enhance tribal capacity to conduct inspections and to manage their lands and resources.
3e. Objective: Region 10 solicits input from tribes on training needs and provides training to tribes on grants management, and on technical and programmatic issues.
3f. Objective: Region 10 assists tribes that have prepared Tribal Environmental Action Plans in developing a funding plan that takes into account funding sources in addition to EPA, including other federal agencies.
Goal 4. Increase permanent resource commitments for tribal workload and strategy implementation.
3g. Objective: Region 10 assists tribes to conduct assessments of environmental conditions of their lands and resources, and to develop priorities for the environmental work they want to undertake.
4a. Objective: By 2005 each office commits 20% of resources (both FTE and extramural funds) to tribal workload
Goal 5. Ensure our resources are used as efficiently as possible, our work is targeted to address the highest priority needs, and our organizational structure supports enhanced tribal activities.
4b Objective: Each office identifies EPA and tribal priorities through consultation with tribal governments.
5a. Objective: The Tribal Office leads Region 10 in updating and revising the tribal roles and responsibilities of offices and individuals in carrying out our tribal program.
5b. Objective: Each office ensures that its staff understand and carry out their roles and responsibilities with respect to tribal programs.
5c. Objective: Each office assigns a tribal specialist to coordinate and support tribal work performed within the office.
5d. Objective: Region 10 establishes a Regional Tribal Grants Workgroup to improve the process of awarding, tracking and reporting tribal grants.
5e. Objective: Region 10 consolidates information on grants for which tribes can apply and makes it easily available (for example, on the Region 10 homepage).
5f. Objective: Region 10 staff participate in regional tribal training on workload responsibilities, communications, and working effectively with tribal governments.
5g. Objective: Region 10 coordinates with other federal agencies on environmental work, including reservation-specific, geographic or bioregional initiatives which affect Indian tribes.
5h. Objective: Region 10 reviews the current Regional TEA template to make it more usable, eliminate redundancy, and align the narrative to correspond with the current action plan concept.
5i. Objective: Each fiscal year the Tribal Office develops a forecast of anticipated Tribal Environmental Agreements, Baseline Assessments, and Environmental Action Plans. Offices use this forecast to plan their resource allocation and develop office work plans.
5j Objective: Each office uses the GRPA planning process and office work plans to establish annually the tribal work it will undertake.