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14th Annual Tribal Conference hosted by U.S. EPA and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Release Date: 10/31/2006
Contact Information: Mark Merchant (415) 947-4297

(10/31/06 -- SAN FRANCISCO) Today more than 500 tribal environmental leaders representing more than 100 tribal governments from Arizona, California and Nevada will be meeting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss environmental concerns and to recognize accomplishments.

    The conference is co-hosted by the U.S. EPA and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

    This year, the U.S. EPA awarded more than $40 million in grants for environmental protection projects to tribes in California, Arizona and Nevada.

    Funding from EPA will be used to develop environmental programs, build water and sewage treatment systems, and implement air pollution control, solid waste management, watershed monitoring and restoration projects.

    “I look forward to attending this conference and learning more of the environmental challenges and accomplishments of tribes in our region,” said Wayne Nastri, U.S. EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator. “Throughout the region, tribes have demonstrated innovative and creative ways to address and solve environmental issues.”

    Over the last year in Arizona, California and Nevada, 118 tribes are building tribal environmental programs, 4,298 tribal homes have safer drinking water, 25 tribes are monitoring air quality, more than 220,000 tribal members are protected from pesticide exposure, and 79 open dump sites have been cleaned up.

    Tribes in Arizona will be receiving over $13 million in grants that will fund projects for the upcoming year. The Navajo Nation worked with a large coal-fired power plant on tribal land to improve the air quality in the Four Corners region. The plant has trimmed its sulfur dioxide emissions by nearly two-thirds over the past two years. That’s a reduction of more than 22,500 tons from 2003.

    As part of the agreement, Navajo EPA assumed regulatory authority over air quality issues for the plant. The agency gained more authority this spring when the U.S. EPA allowed the tribe to administer the plant's operating permit.

    Tribes in California are receiving more than $20 million in grants in the upcoming year. The Torres-Martinez Tribe worked with federal, state and local stakeholders to create the Torres Martinez Solid Waste Collaborative, an innovative partnership that is already seeing results. The collaborative has constructed bilingual “No Dumping” billboards and partnered with Crime Stoppers to offer rewards for violators. Four open dumps have already been cleaned up and prevention measures are in place to deter future dumping.

    The tribe will continue cleaning up the many remaining dumps and will work with local law enforcement to carry out surveillance and prevention measures. Working with local media, the Tribe will also provide bilingual outreach and education about solid waste and illegal dumping.

    In Nevada, tribes will receive over $5 million in grant funding to conduct environmental programs and activities. This past year, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe closed all of the open dumpsites within the reservation. Approximately 32 acres were completely cleared of waste that was illegally dumped.

    The type of waste in the illegal dumpsites include white goods, tires, household hazardous waste, yard waste, demolition and construction, vehicles, and medical waste. The tribe is aggressively enforcing am illegal dumping ordinance to prevent open dumping from occurring again.

    For more information about EPA’s Tribal Program Office for the Pacific Southwest region please go to