EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples
To clarify and integrate environmental justice principles in a consistent manner in the Agency’s work with federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples throughout the United States, and with others living in Indian country to protect their environment and public health.
Federally recognized tribes, state recognized tribes, tribal members, indigenous community-based/grassroots organizations, Native Hawaiians, individual Native Americans, and others living in Indian country.
The EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples (PDF) (11 pp, 818K) contains seventeen (17) principles pertaining to the policy’s four focus areas, includes accountability for the implementation of the policy, a definitions section, and an appendix noting implementation tools available to the Agency.
EPA is promoting the integration of environmental justice principles in the following four areas in the Policy:
- Direct implementation of federal environmental programs in Indian country, and throughout the United States.
- Work with federally recognized tribes/tribal governments on environmental justice.
- Work with indigenous peoples (state recognized tribes, tribal members, etc.) on environmental justice.
- Coordination and collaboration with federal agencies and others on environmental justice issues of tribes, indigenous peoples, and others living in Indian country.
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:
- Recommendations for Fostering Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples (PDF) (49 pp, 709K), January 2013
- Recommendations for the Work Draft of EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples (PDF) (3 pp, 106k), January 2013
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.
- Tribal Consultation & Coordination Letter (PDF) (4 pp, 495K) - March 5, 2012
- Indigenous Stakeholder Outreach Letter (PDF) (3 pp, 355K) - March 20, 2012
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.
- Public Comment/Indigenous Stakeholder Outreach Letter on Working Draft (4 pp, 603K) - January 8, 2013
You can also read EPA responses to public comments received during the public comment and tribal consultation periods below.
- EPA Responses to Comments on the Working Draft (PDF) (5 pp, 110K) - May, 2014
"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." -