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Environmental Justice Goal 2



Environmental Justice Strategic Plan - 1995

Goal 1
Goal 2
Goal 3
Goal 4

WHAT WE ARE DOING / WHAT WE CAN DO

Goal 2.

The Department will provide its employees environmental justice guidance and with the help of minority and low-income communities develop training which will reduce their exposure to environmental health and safety hazards.

What We Are Doing:

DOI-SECRETARY'S OFFICES:

Issued to the IWG copies of video, "Federal Indian Trust Responsibility on December 12, 1994. Additional copies may be obtained from the Office of American Indian Trust. Also issued was a map entitled, "Indian Land Areas". Additional copies may be obtained from BIA, Public Affairs Office. Issue guidance on special government-to-government relationship when seeking solutions for the varied environmental issues that involve Tribes. Any tribal environmental justice directives will assure application of Federal Indian Policy, as reinforced by executive memoranda dated April 29, 1994, which requires the federal government to: 1) pursue the principle of Indian "self-determination", 2) work directly with Tribal governments on a government-to-government basis and 3) to consult with Tribes. Federally recognized Indian tribes are distinct political entities, capable of managing their own affairs and governing themselves. As such, the Department recognizes federally recognized American Indian tribes as providers of environmental justice to members and persons who are subject to their jurisdiction. Upon the request of a tribal government, the Department provides assistance. (An example is the judicial systems/processes guidance provided through the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Judicial Services program.)

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT:

Environmental Justice guidance is given through an Instruction Memorandum entitled "Policy of Promoting Environmental Justice in Public Lands Decisions", and an Information Bulletin entitled "Strategic Plan for Environmental Justice". The BLM has also drafted a handbook on American Indian consultation. The handbook is a joint product of an agreement between the BLM and the National Indian Justice Center on improving communications between the Bureau and tribes and improving tribal access to BLM processes.

Since the mid-1980's, the BLM has made a special and increasing effort to avoid authorizing high risk activities on the public lands. Some activities, such as new sanitary landfill authorizations, have been banned entirely; others, such as non-emergency aerial spraying of pesticides, have been virtually eliminated. The effects of land purchases, BLM waste disposal and prescribed burning, as examples, and most other activities are carefully analyzed for environmental and health risks in advance. BLM is working with the Department of Defense to reduce risks from former military uses. The BLM responds rapidly to unpredictable incidents such as illegal toxic waste dumping, transportation accidents involving chemicals, wildfires, oil spills, and others.

The BLM State Offices send employees to dispute resolution training in a broad range of centers, institutes, colleges and universities. Several BLM employees are nationally known for their mediation skills in natural resource based conflicts and provide assistance to other DOI agencies and to Indian tribes.

OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING:

The Office of Surface Mining is developing a strategic plan devoted exclusively to its environmental justice activities. This strategy will provide employees with the Agency's policy and procedures for effectively addressing legitimate environmental justice issues. Further, in the Agency's continuing outreach efforts with the citizens of the coalfields, our employees will become more aware of and familiar with the specific problems associated with the members of the affected communities.

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION:

All Reclamation projects, regardless of whom they affect, contain mitigation for any environmental impacts. No distinction is made for any particular group, except under the Indian trust asset policy. Guidance criteria include general regulations such as the National Environmental Policy Act Handbook and the newly issued Indian trust asset policy and implementing procedures. Rules directed against discrimination by race, religion, and so forth are established through federal as well as Reclamation guidelines, and laws. Some programs and activities which target minority communities are described below:

1. Public Law 93-638 Reclamation enters into Indian Self-Determination, Education and Assistance Act ("638") contracts with tribes under this program. Under this program, tribes assume responsibility for programs and projects and thereby "side-step" many of the bureaucratic and social hurdles that created environmental justice problems. Reclamation has provided training to its employees to deal more effectively with contracts related to this law.

2. Water Systems O&M Workshops for Indian tribes These workshops make available expertise similar to that at the annual Water Systems O&M Workshop held in Denver with three notable exceptions. The workshops are held at no cost to the benefitting Tribe. Second, these workshops are brought to the tribes rather than vice-versa, allowing a greater and more diversified attendance. Third, specialty workshops have been held on several subjects including: irrigation system O&M, damtenders' training, municipal and industrial water systems, and procedures for high-scaling.

3. Engineering technical assistance Under a Memorandum of Understanding executed in 1993 between Reclamation and the Navajo Nation, Reclamation established a full-time General Engineering position to work with the Navajo Nation to provide technical assistance concerning rehabilitation of the entire Navajo Nation's irrigation system and to assist in establishing an irrigation office.

4. Native American Cultural Awareness Workshop These workshops are put on to educate Reclamation staff about key concepts concerning American Indians and to increase awareness of barriers that have sometimes interfered with interactions between Reclamation officials and American Indians.

5. Technician Training Programs Reclamation participates in these programs designed to provide water resources training for young Native Americans, many of whom eventually work for the tribes in such areas as water quality monitoring.

6. Memorandums of Understanding with Universities, Institutions and Councils Reclamation has entered into agreements in support of an Indian Legal Program and education of the Indian people in water law and management of cultural and natural resources. The College Bound Math and Science Enrichment Program is designed to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Natives who graduate from high school with an emphasis in math and science necessary to complete engineering, science, and technology undergraduate and graduate programs.

U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE:

Through the FWS's Office of Training Education (OTE), a variety of training courses are offered to Service managers that include elements of conflict resolution and deal specifically with inter-cultural and minority conflicts.

In June 1994, the FWS released its Native American Policy. The purpose of that policy is to articulate general principles to guide the FWS's government-to-government relationship with American Indian and Alaska Native governments in the conservation of fish and wildlife resources. It is a partnership approach with American Indian governments that respects and utilizes the traditional knowledge, experience, and perspectives of American Indians in managing fish and wildlife resources.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE:

The NPS has used alternative dispute resolution (ADR) policy instructions in a variety of situations not only in conflicts with minority and low income populations and Indian Tribal governments, but with affected publics in conflict situations. Awareness of ADR use is provided in training programs concerning environmental law, policy, and evaluation.

The NPS has drafted a special directive concerning the incorporation of environmental justice in environmental analysis. The directive is in response to Executive Order 12898. The draft directive stresses the importance of public participation with affected minority and low income communities with respect to environmental decision making, instructing NPS staff to analyze the environmental effects, including human health and socioeconomic, of NPS actions. All actions should be examined that may have an effect on minority or low income communities, regardless of whether the effect is from a direct, indirect, cumulative or sponsored action. Once finalized, this directive will be distributed throughout NPS to orient Washington, Regional, and Park staff with environmental justice concerns within the NPS.

The National Capital Region (NCR) of NPS provides a good example of a region of NPS that has a high degree of environmental justice concerns because of the location of the parks in an urban area with adjacent minority communities. In particular, the National Capital Region East has areas which are exposed to hazardous material, especially on NPS land along the Anacostia River, which is cited as one of the most polluted rivers in an urban area. NCR is taking definite steps to educate its staff regarding the enforcement of environmental statutes in these minority areas in order to be able to identify and punish pollution control violators and clean up the damaged areas.

In addition, the NPS has outreach programs to educate the public on the mission of the Park Service and related activities. These outreach programs are an effective means of educating minority and low income persons, in particular those living adjacent to urban parks, about environmental and conservation issues. Presently, NPS is working on compiling an inventory of educational outreach programs. This inventory will then be disseminated, preferably through the Internet, so that communities have access to knowing the programs/courses that NPS runs and can get involved in the mission of the Park Service.

BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS:

The approval process for BIA activities are tightly governed by technical standards and guidelines designed to prevent such harm. As an example, the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Campo solid waste project required design standards that exceeded both Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State of California standards. Also, approval of restricted use pesticides is controlled by EPA regulations and DOI review committees, and the pesticides are applied by certified applicators. Tribes generally have veto power over BIA actions on the reservations.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE)

The BOEMRE has provided many of its employees with training in basic environmental conflict management techniques. This was accomplished at a series of recent regional workshops conducted by a consulting firm under contract to the BOEMRE.

Goal 2. -- What We Can Do

Strategies on what we can do:

A. Departmental policy regarding environmental justice will be developed, coordinated and disseminated in the following areas:

1. Publish guidance reflecting the latest scientific information available regarding methods for evaluating the human health risks associated with the consumption of pollutant-bearing fish or wildlife.

2. Review and update for agency contract officers and applicants materials on minority contractor processes about the evolving area of environmental justice. This will be in conjunction with the Interagency Working Group Outreach Task Force effort.

3. Issue guidance, following Department of Justice direction, on application of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to environmental justice issues.

4. Establish a working group and a calendar to alert groups on environmental justice issues.

B. Guidance on environmental justice and the American Indian and Alaska Natives will be the basis of consultation with tribes and incorporate the issues and recommendations identified at the 1994 American Indian Listening Conference.

Progress Measurement - Designate contact/liaison person within each bureau to accommodate Environmental Justice questions, concerns and referrals. Each office will develop and issue interim guidance for specific directives noted in the Executive Order on Environmental Justice. As part of this guidance Interior organizations will identify and share examples of ongoing DOI-community participation by February 1995.

DOI-Office of Environmental Justice will distribute to Interior's offices EPA's report, "Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors of American Youth" by March 1995.

Progress Measurement - DOI-Office of Environmental Justice will coordinate with EPA to publish the President's and Secretary's policy and mission statements on Environmental Justice via a one-page newsletter or talking paper. On a regular basis, publish Environmental Justice successes and concerns.

Progress Measurement - Explore provision of universal sign symbols to designate dangers at hazardous materials and other sites on Department and Bureau land located in or adjacent to minority and/or American Indian communities or lands by December 1995.

Progress Measurement - DOI-Office of Environmental Justice will distribute final recommendations of the Native American Task Force on Environmental Justice with the products provided as the Tribal Leaders Directory and the Native American Organizations by February 1995. These documents will commence the consultation process with the tribes to build American Indian and Alaska Native guidance.