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Tribal Compliance Assistance Center

Pollution Prevention and Green Purchasing | Success Stories

Success Stories
Case Studies

Pollution Prevention Success Stories

This section provides examples of successful pollution prevention projects implemented by tribes. While not an exhaustive list, these success stories provide a survey of the range of activities into which pollution prevention can be incorporated and demonstrate the multiple benefits - resource conservation, regulatory compliance, cost savings - of incorporating pollution prevention into all operations. Tribes can find additional pollution prevention examples, information resources, and share their own success stories at the Tribal Pollution Prevention Exit EPA Disclaimer Web site . Tribes and others can also join the Tribal P2 Workgroup Exit EPA Disclaimer.

Green Building: Baca/Dlo'ay azhi Community School

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certified Baca Dlo'ay azhi Community School Exit EPA Disclaimer, on the Navajo Nation reservation in Prewitt, New Mexico, serves students in kindergarten through grade six. The 78,900 ft2 building incorporates Native American cultural concepts, including an orientation that reflects the meanings associated with the four cardinal directions. The school employs daylighting, low-emissivity windows, shading, an efficient mechanical system, and a sophisticated energy-management system; energy use at the school is expected to be 20% below that of a minimally code-compliant facility. The school is also expected to use 30% less water than a conventional facility. Materials were selected for their recycled content and proximity to the building site. Daylighting, air filtration, a track-off entryway system, and a green housekeeping plan contribute to a healthy indoor environment.

Green Building: Hopi Nation Straw Bale Home

Red Feather Development Group is a nonprofit whose mission is to educate and empower American Indian nations to create sustainable solutions to the severe housing crisis in reservation communities. They teach affordable, replicable and sustainable approaches to home construction. As part of Red Feather's Elder Housing Initiative, a strawbale home was recently completed on the Hopi Reservation Exit EPA Disclaimer. It was built as a replicable model to introduce straw bale homes as a viable solution and provide housing for one family and a learning tool for others. Straw bale construction, especially when built with a frost-protected shallow foundation, provides an affordable and energy-efficient house. The home was constructed with community involvement, transferring straw bale construction skills to tribal members. This home also demonstrates efficient layout in a small footprint, the use of low-impact products (on both health and environment), and barrier-free design.

Sustainable Forestry: Tribes Supply Green Building Market with Certified Lumber

The First Nations Development Institute reported (2002) that tribes have gained increased control over their forests in recent years, and tribal foresters are seeking exposure for their sustainable forestry practices, which are part of their traditional way of life. One vehicle for exposure is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Exit EPA Disclaimer, which provides third-party certification for environmentally sound forestry operations.

Tribes completing certification assessments include: The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs in Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, the Confederated Salish and Kootneai Tribe in Montana, the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona, the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico, the Spokane Tribe of Washington, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota and the Ft. Bidwell Indian Community in California. Several of these have obtained full FSC certification, while twenty-seven more tribes have gone through scoping assessments.

Renewable Energy: Wind Powering Native America

The Wind Powering Native America On-line video documents the installation of the first Native American-owned, large, utility-scale wind turbine in Indian country, Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. A printable video transcript is also available. Year Published: 2005

Pollution Prevention Programs: Mohegan Sun Resort

The Mohegan Tribe was honored with a 2004 National Pollution Prevention Roundtable MVP2 Award for their Environmental Protection Department's outstanding P2 program. They have done work implementing fuel cell technology, photovoltaics, heat pumps, and in recycling food and other materials. The Mohegan Sun Resort Exit EPA Disclaimer installed infrared sensors in hotel rooms for heating and lighting, and established a rainforest in Costa Rica to sequester carbon produced by the casino. Mohegan Sun, the third largest casino in the United States, is also a member of the Mohegan Nation, a leader in "Green Purchasing" that requires every employee take a course on P2.

Solid Waste Management: Tribal Composting Nourishes Land and Tradition

This issue of EPA's Tribal Waste Journal focuses on a variety of innovative composting approaches, including: backyard, fish and wood waste, food waste and biosolids, vermicomposting in schools, green waste composting in an arid climate, mixed solid waste composting in Alaska, and cultural gardens and green roofs. It features the stories and experiences of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Fond du Lac Reservation, Haines Sanitation, Inc., Ho-Chunk Nation, Kake Tribal Corporation, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, Redwood Valley Rancheria, and Slat River Pima Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona. It also contains an extensive list of resources and a Kids Page. Published annually, the Journal is available on the Web or free printed copies are available from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (ncepimal@one.net) or at (800) 490-9198. Document Number: (EPA530-N-05-001).

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Additional Tribal Pollution Prevention Case Studies

Waste Management in Indian Country

EPA's Tribal Solid Waste Management Program encourages municipal solid waste and hazardous waste management practices in Indian country that protect human health and the environment. The experience of other tribes, villages, and tribal consortia that have successful programs already in place or on the way is a valuable resource for tribes and Alaska native villages developing solid waste management programs. The Tribal Solid Waste Management Program Web site offers studies of tribal waste management programs in the "where you live" section.

Mohegan Tribe (EPA Region 1)

The Mohegan Tribe has undertaken a major effort to reduce waste. The result is that the Tribe has reduced 44 percent of its solid waste stream by source reduction, green purchasing, education, and contractor certification.

Assiniboine and Sioux Nations, Fort Peck Reservation (EPA Region 8)

The Fort Peck tribes offer a combination of affordable curbside collection service and permanent waste drop-off sites to facilitate proper solid waste disposal. The tribes established a Public Works Committee Board to speed up the solid waste management decision-making process.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EPA Region 4)

When the federal RCRA Subtitle D landfill regulations went into effect, tribe closed its landfill and constructed a transfer station that can accept 300 tons of waste per day. The transfer station is successful because the tribe sized it properly, sited it carefully, and provided employees with extensive training.

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (EPA Region 10)

It took the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation 10 years to plan and build a transfer station, but their persistence paid off. The northeastern Oregon reservation now has a successful waste management system in place that is proving well worth the wait.

Jicarilla Apache Nation (EPA Region 6)

The tribe used information collected from site visits and a feasibility study to select the perfect transfer station design. The completed transfer station is a split-level, enclosed facility that handles 12 to 16 tons of waste per day.

Oglala Sioux Tribe (EPA Region 8)

The tribe constructed a balefill that meets the federal landfill requirements. The tribe obtained funding from EPA, the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to complete the project. The first cell of the balefill can handle waste from the reservation for 25 years.

Onondaga Nation (EPA Region 2)

The nation funded and constructed a small transfer station without help from the IHS or any other federal agencies. The nation worked directly with private waste haulers to design and complete its transfer station, which consists of a concrete surface with two roll-off bins inside of a gated chainlink fence.

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation (EPA Region 2)

After conducting a waste audit, completing a feasibility study, and examining different transfer station designs, the tribe chose to install two 53 cubic yard, self-contained waste storage units. The tribe's transfer station facility will also include a gated entrance, an unpaved road, a vehicle scale, a drop-off area for recyclables, and an operations building.

Tule River Indian Tribe (EPA Region 9)

After closing five open dumps, the tribe implemented a solid waste management plan to provide waste disposal alternatives. The tribe worked with the Indian Health Service to site, design, and construct a transfer station.

Interagency Open Dump Cleanup Project

A multi-agency funding commitment to help tribes throughout Indian Country close open dumps, clean up waste on tribal land, and develop safe solid waste management practices. The Open Dump Cleanup Project (PDF) (2 pp, 224K, About PDF) document provides more information. Cooperating agencies include: Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, USDA's Rural Utilities Service, Department of Defense, and Housing and Urban Development.

Pueblo of Taos

The Pueblo used federal grants to close its 5.4-acre open dump, identified by IHS as a high-threat site. The grant funding enabled the Pueblo to cap its open dump, provide post-closure maintenance and monitoring, establish a transfer station and curbside collection service, and provide community outreach. The tribe implemented a solid waste management plan in conjunction with the open dump closure activities in order to prevent the degradation of wetlands and to protect the Pueblos' bison herd. To assess the effects of a transfer station or curbside collection service, the tribe is monitoring illegal dumping activity. The tribe worked as a team, with several federal agencies and a consortium of 19 federally recognized tribes, to successfully close the 5.4-acre dump. By working together to close the open dump and develop alternative solid waste management options, the team helped protect the health of the community and prevent environmental damage to wetlands, the aquifer, and the Pueblos' bison herd.

White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians

The White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians used a Tribal Open Dump Cleanup Project grant to clean up the Cherry Lake Road dumpsite on its reservation. This highly visible and well-known illegal dumpsite spanned a 4.5-mile stretch of Cherry Lake Road. All types of waste were removed from the site, ranging from common household trash to large items such as furniture, appliances, and tires. The council also used the grant funds to improve service at its five solid waste satellite transfer stations. In the past, many residents felt the user fees were too high and the stations were not staffed reliably. With the grant money, the tribal council evaluated the fee schedule for the stations and established prices more conducive to residents. Since the cleanups and the improvements to the transfer station, most of the illegal dumpsites have remained clean, and residents are much more aware of the illegal dumping problem.

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For related information visit EPA’s National Indian Country Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Priority site and EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program in Indian country site.

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