Deputy Administrator McCabe and National Tribal Caucus Chair Wagner Co-Chair 2022 National Tribal Operations Committee Meeting
WASHINGTON – Today, Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and National Tribal Caucus (NTC) Chair Gerald Wagner convened the annual National Tribal Operations Committee (NTOC) meeting. The NTOC meeting brings together the National Tribal Caucus (NTC) and EPA Senior Leadership for a discussion on a wide variety of environmental issues including climate change, Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK), and more. Today’s meeting focused in particular on how Tribes and EPA are partnering to address climate change, including through climate adaptation plans and the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to protect clean air, improve access to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services, and advance environmental justice.
“EPA welcomed the opportunity to hear from the National Tribal Caucus on the very real climate challenges that Tribes are facing as we work together to combat and adapt to our changing climate and protect public health,” said Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “EPA looks forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with Tribal Nations so that we can rise together to meet this challenge and deliver critical environmental and public health protection in Indian country.”
Deputy Administrator McCabe also shared some of the current and future funding opportunities available to EPA’s tribal partners, including upcoming opportunities under the Inflation Reduction Act, and more specifics on funding that is available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the America Rescue Plan to combat the climate change crisis. Some highlights include:
- EPA’s new Clean School Bus Program (with funding from the BIL) provides $5 billion over the next five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models which will result in better air quality on the bus, in the bus loading areas, and throughout the communities in which they operate. EPA solicited applications for $500 million through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates program, which closed on August 19, 2022, and gave priority to low-income, rural, and Tribal communities. EPA plans on opening another round of funding in the form of grants later this year. Learn more about the Clean School Bus Rebate Program.
- A $350 million investment in the Pollution Prevention (P2) program through the Inflation Reduction Act will establish a labeling program for lower embodied carbon construction materials and a grant program to provide technical assistance for measuring and certifying the embodied carbon of construction materials and products. A $100 million investment in the Agency’s (P2) program through BIL will support new grant opportunities to promote sustainable purchasing and encourage businesses working in or with underserved or overburdened communities to adopt P2 practices. Learn more about the new P2 BIL grant opportunity.
- Through BIL $154 million is available to Tribes and Alaska Native Villages to improve access to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services. Learn more about the Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Program and Safe Drinking Water on Tribal Lands.
- Through a partnership with the Department of Energy, the EPA has $100 million available in grant funding to establish 5-10 Environmental Justice (EJ) Thriving Community Technical Assistance Centers across the nation. These centers will serve communities with environmental justice concerns and their partners. Learn more about the EJ Thriving Community Technical Assistance Centers.
The meeting also included a discussion on ITEK — Indigenous Knowledge (IK) — and how it contributes to the scientific, technical, social, and economic advancements of the United States and the Biden-Harris Administration’s charge to federal agencies to consider Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Federal decision making where appropriate.
For more information about EPA’s programs in Indian Country, visit EPA's Environmental Protection in Indian Country webpage.