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Catawba Indian Nation, EPA Sign Environmental Agreement

Release Date: 12/21/2004
Contact Information: Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353, niles.laura@epa.gov
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 announced today that the Catawba Indian Nation and EPA have signed a Tribe/EPA Environmental Agreement, to help the Tribe develop the capacity to overcome environmental problems, protect surface waters for traditional practices such as fishing, improve drinking water services, monitor both indoor and outdoor air quality, and promote economic and social development in an environmental friendly manner. 

The Agreement describes the working relationship between the Tribe and EPA in language specific enough for planning purposes, but general enough to allow either party flexibility in meeting important goals.

For instance, the Tribe is planning to test homes for the presence of radon, a colorless, odorless naturally-occurring gas that can enter homes through the foundation.  Long-term exposure to high levels of radon may cause serious health effects, including lung cancer.  Radon is responsible for hundreds of cancer-related deaths each year in the United States. The Agreement allows the Tribe discretion as to when and how this testing will be done.

“This is the first time the Catawba Indian Nation and EPA have written down where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going as a team,” said Gilbert Blue, Chief of the Catawba Indian Nation. “Jimmy Palmer and I have been talking about the need for such an agreement for some time.  It is now a reality.”

“This agreement, only the second one signed between the Federal government and any Tribal Government in the Eastern United States, is historic,” said Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator of EPA Region 4, “and will provide a blueprint for action for our respective governments.” 

The Catawba Indian Nation consists of almost 2,800 members, many of whom live on 700 acres of Tribal Land located near Rock Hill, South Carolina.  The Tribe received federal recognition in 1993 and has been operating as a sovereign governmental entity since that time.  The Tribe’s current environmental functions include monitoring the quality of drinking water and the air environment, managing the indoor air environment, and collecting and disposing of solid waste.  Employees of the Tribe’s Department of Planning and Development are also active on local, state and national environmental councils and groups, studying new ways of protecting the environment and improving public health.

For more information concerning this Agreement, contact Lewis George, Director of Planning and Development, Catawba Indian Nation at (803) 242-3903.