Webinar: Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty through Waste Management Codes and Ordinances

June 30, 2022, 1 pm CDT
Register here.

Join us on June 30th to learn why developing tribal law is one of the purest and truest expressions of tribal sovereignty. Developing enforceable codes and ordinances can ultimately assist a tribe in addressing its unique environmental issues while honoring and preserving its traditions for future generations. Abandoned motor vehicles on tribal land can pose an especially challenging problem. Combining enforceable law with effective policy and tribal programs can be one path towards solving a difficult solid waste problem.

Annie Perry of Snowpony Consulting will share her in-depth knowledge related to the step-by-step process of developing codes and ordinances. Kori Ellien will discuss her experience implementing and enforcing environmental codes with the Yurok Tribe. Ms. Ellien will also highlight the success the Tribe has had at preserving tribal traditions by removing abandoned vehicles on the Yurok Tribe’s land.

Bringing back fire: How burning can help restore eastern lands

Read the full story at e360.

For millennia, North American ecosystems benefited from fire, mostly set by Indigenous people. Now, a movement is growing, particularly in the eastern U.S., to reintroduce controlled burns to forests and grasslands and restore the role of fire in creating biodiverse landscapes.

As air pollution declined, tribal nations got left out

Read the full story from Bloomberg.

Although air pollution in the U.S. had been on a steady decline over the last two decades (until recently), the benefits have not been evenly distributed. A new analysis of data between 2000 and 2018 shows that trends for Native American communities on tribal land have not kept up with the decline in other communities, which means Native Americans now bear an increasing burden of dangerous air pollutants.

The research, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Public Health, adds to ample past studies that have documented the disproportionately high exposure among people of color in urban areas, especially those in Black and brown neighborhoods that have historically faced racially restrictive redlining policies.

Webinar: Let’s Talk About It: A Conversation with Tribes about Environmental Justice

Apr 28, 2022 1 pm CDT
Register here
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Please join Carolyn Hoskinson, ORCR Office Director, at this interactive session to take a closer look at Environmental Justice (EJ) from a tribal perspective. EPA will share its EJ priorities and discuss current and future waste grant programs. Tribes will have the opportunity to express waste related EJ concerns and provide feedback on how EPA’s EJ priorities can assist in building sustainable waste management programs.

The frontline of conservation: how Indigenous guardians are reinforcing sovereignty and science on their lands

Read the full story at The Narwhal.

From catching poachers to documenting species to saving lives, guardians all along the B.C. coast are bringing back traditional practices of territorial safeguarding — and filling major knowledge and conservation gaps while they’re at it

Indian Energy Service Center: Support Activities Have Been Provided, but Goals and Performance Measures Should Be Defined

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Since the Department of the Interior established the Indian Energy Service Center in fiscal year 2015, the Service Center has undertaken efforts to improve federal management of Indian energy resources through three major activities:

  • Processing support. The Service Center provided staff assistance and funding to support some Interior offices involved in the management of Indian energy resources. For example, Service Center staff conducted engineering reviews for oil and gas drilling permits and processed backlogged revenue-sharing agreements that had delayed distribution of oil and gas royalties to tribes and individual Indian mineral owners.
  • Collaboration. The Service Center helped establish federal partner groups to improve coordination among federal agencies involved in Indian energy development. These groups were established in six areas of the country where Indian energy development is located.
  • Guidance and training. The Service Center developed and delivered training on the roles and responsibilities of Interior agencies involved in energy development to encourage consistency among agencies and field offices.
The Indian Energy Service Center Provides Training on Oil and Gas Operating Procedures
The Indian Energy Service Center provides training on oil and gas operating procedures

The Service Center has a comprehensive mission statement to guide its activities at a high level, but GAO found that the Service Center does not have shorter-term performance goals with related performance measures. GAO’s prior work highlights how goals and measures are important performance management practices because they help to focus activities and resources on achieving mission results. According to Service Center officials, they primarily track the Service Center’s progress through project completion reports and an annual accomplishments list, which includes outputs such as the number of tasks the Service Center completed for field offices. However, without performance goals and measures, it is not possible to tell whether the number of tasks completed exceeds or falls short of desired results. Establishing performance goals and measures should help the Service Center better assess how effectively it is performing and whether its actions have improved processes or outcomes for Indian energy development.

Why GAO Did This Study

Indian tribes and their members hold considerable energy resources and may use these resources to provide economic benefits and improve the well-being of their communities. To develop energy resources, tribes and their members work with multiple federal agencies involved in regulating development of Indian energy resources and distributing royalty payments.

GAO and others have previously found that developing Indian energy resources has been hindered by Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’ inefficient management. In fiscal year 2015, Interior established the Indian Energy Service Center to improve its management of energy development in Indian country and increase collaboration between federal agencies.

This report examines (1) the Service Center’s activities since 2015 toward improving management of Indian energy resources, and (2) the extent to which the Service Center has followed performance management practices. GAO examined agency documentation and interviewed officials.

Study examines disparities in air pollution affecting American Indian communities

Read the full story from Columbia University.

New research highlights disparities in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) trends between American Indian (AI) and non-AI populated U.S. counties. PM2.5 is one of several air pollutants regulated by the U.S. EPA. Downward trends in PM2.5 concentrations were steeper among the non-AI populated compared to AI-populated counties. With most U.S. air pollution research conducted in urban settings, this is the first study to detail the extent of particulate air pollution levels and its potential health consequences among rural AI communities.

Land acknowledgments spur controversies

Read the full story at Inside Higher Ed.

A controversial land acknowledgment led to a clash between a University of Washington professor and administrators. Native scholars say the practice has value but can be problematic without a commitment to supporting Indigenous communities.

The race to free Washington’s last orca in captivity

Read the full story at SeattleMet.

A southern resident’s violent capture off Whidbey Island was the original sin of a now-defunct local industry. Decades later, a Lummi-led effort to bring her home is on the verge of an improbable breakthrough.

Lake Superior’s forever chemicals

Read the full story in the Washington Post Magazine.

Indigenous tribes around the lake depend on fishing to survive — but the fish are contaminated