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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.

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Federally recognized tribes, state recognized tribes, tribal members, indigenous community-based/grassroots organizations, Native Hawaiians, individual Native Americans, and others living in Indian country.

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The EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples (PDF) (12 pp, 1MB) 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.

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Focus Areas

EPA is promoting the integration of environmental justice principles in the following four areas in the Policy:

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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:

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.

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.

The third, and final, tribal consultation period and public comment period to focus on the Revised Draft of the Policy were held May 5 - June 5, 2014.

You can also read EPA responses to public comments received during the public comment and tribal consultation periods below.

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"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." - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Administrator Gina McCarthy signing the memo to issue the policy during a meeting of the EPA National Tribal Operations Committee, held at EPA Headquarters.


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