Protecting the
Tribal Environment—
Options b Opportunities
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the Water 0 the Land 0 the Air
T r i,b e s 1 Sovereign Right to Prorte c't

Table of Contents
Benefits of Tribal Management of
Environmental Protection Programs
EPA Indian Policy 				
Developing Tribal Environmental Programs
Programs Available for Management
by Tribes 		
Enforcement of Environmental Laws	
Federal Implementation of Environmental
Protection Programs 	


In order to protect the nation's natural
resources and the health of the general public,
the United States Congress creates federal
environmental protection laws. These laws are
then implemented and enforced across the nation,
primarily by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), but also by states, local
governments, and Indian tribes. Not all federal
environmental laws are equally clear in defining
the authority and role of tribes in protecting the
environment in Indian Country. Yet tribes can
participate in managing many environmental
protection programs over which EPA has authority.
Federal environmental law£ set standards
'-Wf-' for what people and institutions must do to
control and/or prevent pollution in addition, mafty of
these laws provide opportunities and financial
'I	$
support for tribes to conduct ^nvi|bnmer*fal planning,
monitoring, remediation, and pollution prevention.

This.guide presents more than 20
environmental programs, for which Indian
tribes tan request!mf nagejrient authority. Because
each program has difteferingualification criteria,
*	c
requests lor material shdyjdpe directed to EPA st
working in Specific progra
search for further Inform
Environmental Information Servf^l^nter at
(800) 227-8917 or, in Denver, at%93%603.

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Benefits of "Tribal
Management of
Environmental Protection
v*. EPA believes that tribal governments-are in the
•>=**'best position to set standards and protect the
environment and public health in Indian Country.
When a tribe receives approval for managing
environmental programs, the tribe is recognized as
the principal party for performing official activities
under federal environmental laws. The tribal
exercise of sovereignty in this way retains tribal
control over the future condition of Indian Country
and Indian Country environments. It also serves to
support the government-to-government status that
is vital to a healthy tribal-federal partnership. EPA's
role in this partnership is to provide technical
assistance and federal funding whenever possible.
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EPA Indian Policy
Since 1970, federal Indian policy has
• >5*"' supported the right for tribal governments to
have primary authority for all matters affecting
Indian Country. /\ national policy established by
EPA in 1984 calls for close involvement of tribal
governments in making decisions and managing ¦;
environmental programs affecting reservation lands.
This policy also calls for special consideration of
tribal interests when making EPA policy. As is true
for all EPA policies, EPA's fundamental objective is
protecting the environment and human health.
The 1984 policy recognizes tribal governments
as the primary parties for setting standards,
making environmental policy decisions, and
managing tribal programs that are consistent wftb
EPA standards and regulations. To make this
possible, EPA is committed to taking affirmative
steps to encourage and assist tribes in assuming,^
regulatory and program management responsibilities.
In this way, EPA assists interested tribal governments
>*"»" ¦" \
fn developing programs to pf©tecfc|heir ped^fe and
their natural resources. EPA%lsp encourages*
cooperation between tribal; *sigj|, and local
governments iq resolve enviror^fa|#p|3blems of
mutual concern. Some tribal government may be
either unwilling or unable to as$lime full|
respond©Jj|ty for environments! protection
programs. Until such situates change, EPA will
retain responsibility for pl^ram management.

Developing Tribal
Environmental Programs
ManV ^ederal environmental laws allow tribal
•^^•'governments to develop programs for Indian
Country. When EPA determines that a tribal
program meets federal requirements, EPA can
approve the program and transfer authority for
it to the tribe.
•'(?%¦EPA oversees roore than 20 programs that
•>?*• provide environmental protection under the
broad federal laws passed by Congress. Many of
these programs involve establishing and enforcing
regulations; others consist of implementing
voluntary measures to reduce pollution. Each
program cites specific criteria which must be met
•* in order for a tribe to participate.
•/7^' For some ^ese environmental programs,
•%<•' financial support is available to tribes for
the various staged of program development.
Additionally, thf Indian Environmental General
Assistance Program Act of 1992 makes funds
available to support the costs of planning,
developing, and establishing tribal environmental
protection .programs.
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Programs Available for
Management bu Tribes
When the U.S. Congress passes environmental
• laws, it directs EPA to develop regulations
associated with some of the programs outlined in
the laws. This is the case for laws such as the Clean
Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water
Act. EPA has developed regulations for tribal
programs under many, but not all, of the existing
environmental statutes. As Congress reauthorizes
the statutes, the specific language and programs
contained within them are subject to revision.
Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, for
example, may include adding programs for which
tribes will be eligible to seek approval.
The following list describes programs that can
• be directly implemented by EPA or managed
by tribes. In order to be approved for a particular
program, a tribe must meet very specific
requirements. Therefore, a tribe must apply -
separately,for each program.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) requires that anyone discharging*
significant Jevels of pollution into any waterway(s)
obtain a permit from EPA or an EPA-approved entity
(tribal agency or state). Permits limit the amounts
and kinds of pollutants that can be legally ,
discharged into waterways.

Pre-treatment Program requires dischargers to
provide some level of treatment for hazardous
wastes before discharging them into a publicly-
owned wastewater (sewage) treatment plant.
Underground Injection Control (UIC) regulates
the manner in which specific kinds of wastes can
be placed underground. The program is designed
to protect the quality of water in aquifers.
Public Water Supply (PWS) regulates drinking
water systems of a certain size under the federal
Safe Drinking Water Act.
Sludge Program regulates the disposal and use of
solids left over from wastewater (sewage) treatment
Wetlands Program requires permits from EPA or
an EPA-approved entity (tribal agency or state) to
do work in rivers or streams or on shorelines. The
program is designed to protect wetlands from
damage and/or destruction.
Construction Grants provide federal financial
assistance to build needed wastewater treatment
State Revolving Fund (SRF) provides a federal
funding mechanism for specific construction
projects: for wastewater treatment plants under the
Clean Water Act, and for drinking water systems
under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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Wellhead Protection Program (WHP) identifies
areas where contaminated water could reach a
public water supply well, and creates land use
management approaches to protect such identified
wells from contamination.
Nonpoint Source (NPS) provides for the
management of pollution sources that originate from
a diffuse area and may impact water quality, such
as urban and agricultural runoff.
Water Quality Standards are developed under the
Clean Water Act to establish acceptable levels of
contaminants that can be carried by specific bodies
of water.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide
Act (FIFRA) lists specific restricted-use pesticides
that can be applied only by people trained and
certified to use them.
Endangered Species Program evaluates potential
impacts of pesticides in areas where endangered
species may exist, and authorizes EPA to halt
pesticide use in specified areas.
Worker Protection Eifcforcfginent sets
requirements to protect tyqrk&s from the ha
of pesticides, Including proactive equipment f
used and .re-entry times tfrat1s;eep workers fro
returning to sprayed fields while still hazard;

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Groundwater Protection, under F1FRA, seeks to
protect groundwater supplies from the effects of
surface application of pesticides.
Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) is
a Clean Air Act program that protects air which is
already cleaner than is required by national
standards; such air must be protected and cannot
be allowed to "dirty down" tp the standard.
National Emissions Standards for Hazardous
Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) establishes emissions
standards for nonconventional air pollutants such as
asbestos, benzene, polyvinyl chloride, and mercury.
New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) sets
air pollution limits for new factories, power plants,
and other stationary sources of air pollution.
Indoor Radon provides for: 1) research, ,
demonstration, and evaluation techniques to
reduce radon levels in new and existing homes,
2)	information on how to evaluate health risks
associated with different levels of radon, and
3)	information on how to reduce radon in indoor
air and drinking water.

Hazardous and Sq\'\A Waste
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA) is the nation's basic solid and hazardous
waste Isw. It sets standards for waste disposal and
establishes programs to track wastes from the point
of creation to disposal, and to force hazardous
waste cleanupsat existing facilities.
Municipal Solid Waste, under RCRA, regulates
Underground Storage Tanks (UST), under RCRA,
aims to prevent and track leakage of liquids from
underground tanks. This program serves to protect
the quality of water in aquifers.
Superfund (CERCLA) cleans up abandoned or
uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

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Enforcement of
Environmental Laws
Enforcement consists of all efforts to
encourage compliance with environmental
laws. One of the main components of environmental
programs in Indian Country is the enforcement of
either tribal or federal environmental laws. For many
environmental programs, tribes may develop tribal
laws or codes which are enforceable in tribal court.
•'(?% Suc'1 'aws or c°des established by the tribe
must meet all national standards and
regulations—or may be more strict than national
standards in protecting against environmental
degradation. Issuing and enforcing tribal rules and
permits enables tribes to maintain their own
environmental standards and regulations. For those
programs where tribes cannot or do not develop a
tribal regulatory framework, federal environmental
laws remain enforceable In federal court.
i. Enforcement Jnplades activities strcft as
inspections, perflating, <*omtpjtfance
monitoring, and other efforts tp Encourage
comptenc* with enviro'nntpntal istiiadardsL injsome
cases/a tribe ra&y perform Wiany activities involved
w en^lj^l^fiental i^o^riinkbi|t
up to	to relydn
EPA to perform, cr^rk^^^dkmti&ri in cases where
they lack criminal enf<|Ns©i8terii authority.


Federal Implementation of
Environmental Protection
,• Where a tribe has not yet been approved
• for environmental programs, or chooses not
to seek approval, EPA retains responsibility for
management and enforcement. In those cases "
where a tribe requests that EPA implement an
environmental program in Indian Country, EPA will
generally enforce federaf protection standards rather
than .those that could be developedby tlfe|rijb
While this may seem like a drawback, dft-^fe &al
implementation stifl serves
function: protecting the envir
Country. EPA prefers to see
environmental programs rat,
direct federal implementatio
approved to manage a prograril,^etffi>al
government assumes the lead role while EPA
provides support and assistance.
I *
n performing
QnJi§ tribe is