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Environmental Justice Goal 4



Environmental Justice Strategic Plan - 1995

Goal 1
Goal 2
Goal 3
Goal 4

WHAT WE ARE DOING / WHAT WE CAN DO

Goal 4.

The Department will use our public partnership opportunities with environmental and grassroots groups, business, academic, labor organizations, and Federal, Tribal, and local governments to advance environmental justice.

What We Are Doing:

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (BLM):

The Resource Apprenticeships Program (RAPS) works with the BIA, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the USDA Forest Service to organize work and educational experiences for minority and low income high school and college students. Other state-specific examples follow: BLM Montana participates in the Montana Interagency Ecosystem Management Committee; BLM Oregon participates in ongoing Tribal Leadership Forums hosted by the BIA to explore federal/tribal relations in the Northwest; the Coeur d'Alene Basin Interagency Group is a large group of federal, Tribal, State, and local governments which actively work together to clean up damage from past mining activities.

OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING (OSM):

OSM has established an Advisory Board in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The OSM Advisory Board will consist of representatives from OSM's constituent groups, including citizens, Native Americans, states, environmental groups, and industry. The Board will advise OSM on a variety of environmental and regulatory issues. Native Americans and citizens in the coal fields will have a direct link with the Director of OSM in airing and resolving concerns. OSM views the establishment of this Advisory Board as an advanced step in addressing areas of mutual concern with its constituent groups.

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION:

Reclamation has a Technical Assistance for Native Americans Program that provides technical assistance on studies, training, and water treatment projects for small Native American communities. One component of this program ensures that there are reliable and safe drinking water systems that comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Also, a core team from the Technical Service Center will perform water treatment and wastewater treatment plant audits to determine if those plants are in compliance.

Nearly all studies or projects that Reclamation is involved with include potential impacts to tribes, the poor, and/or minorities. Some examples of such studies include the Truckee River Operating Agreement EIS/EIR, several of the Department of Interior National Irrigation Water Quality Program studies, and the Columbia River System Operating Review EIS. Indian tribes have participated as cooperating agencies on several major Reclamation EIS's.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (FWS):

The FWS is involved in a variety of agreements and partnerships with other Federal agencies, the States, and other non-Federal entities such as:

  • Partners for Resources Education and the Federal Interagency Council on Interpretation.
  • The Interorganizational Committee on Guidelines and Principles for Social Impact Assessment. The Committee, comprised of social scientists representing government, academia, and the private sector, published a document in May 1994, entitled "Guidelines and Principles for Social Impact Assessment."
  • In June 1994, the FWS released its Native American Policy that encourages a partnership approach with American Indian governments in managing fish and wildlife resources.
  • At the Regional level, for example, Region 4 (southeast United States) is funding one FTE to Zoo Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta is an intercity zoo which reaches a substantial urban minority population. The Regional Office is also represented on the Environmental Justice and Urban Microclimate Committees of the Atlanta Environmental Priorities Project. In Region 2 (southwest United States), the Service is a participant on Federal Native American water rights teams.

BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS (BIA):

The BIA was the lead in preparing an MOU with EPA, IHS and Housing and Urban Development which addressed roles and responsibilities on various environmental issues on Indian lands. These four agencies meet regularly to address major environmental and health related concerns as they appear.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (NPS):

The NPS participates with a wide variety of interagency work groups such as the National Response Team, and the Environmental Protection Agency monthly environmental forum that can be useful in promoting the Departmental environmental justice strategic plan.

The NPS has numerous partnerships programs with youth corp and conservation organizations. In urban areas, these programs serve as a means to introduce minority and low income children and young adults to environmental and conservation issues. NPS and the organizations that NPS is in partnership with hope that the participants will take back the principles they have learned to their community, thus promoting environmental awareness.

The following are a small sampling of partnership programs involving youth corp organizations and the NPS:

  • The City Volunteer Corps based in New York City, N.Y. has carried out projects within the Gateway National Recreation Area. Such projects have included beach cleanups and conducting surveys to catalog the debris washing up on beaches in order to monitor the incidence of hazardous debris which could adversely affect shorebirds and marine life.
  • The Montana Conservation Corps has worked with the Blackfoot Tribe in a reclamation project on portions of the Continental Divide Trail, which weaves through both Glacier Park and tribal lands. This project provided a gateway for more jobs for tribal members within Glacier National Park.
  • The Job Corps provides underprivileged youth, ages 16 to 24, an opportunity to benefit from an intensive program consisting of: education, vocational skills training, work experience, counseling, health services, and residential living. The Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers have worked with Gateway National Recreation Area, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.
  • The Conservation Career Development Corps program is an initiative to attract and prepare high risk inner-city minority and female high school and college students for career opportunities in the National Park Service. This is a demonstration project to use the urban park facilities as training sites. The program is designed to increase the diversity of employees in NPS to fully reflect the composition of the total population.

As these examples demonstrate, youth corp and job corp partnerships provide a solid environmental learning experience for the youths involved, while at the same time leaving behind a legacy of work products from which the parks benefit significantly.

Goal 4. -- What We Can Do

Strategies on what we can do:

A. Identify opportunities to develop partnerships with Tribal governments, consistent with mission needs to provide necessary technical assistance to enhance tribal capacity to address environmental, health, and welfare concerns. Progress Measurement - The Department will reactivate and provide resources to implement the Memorandum of Understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Indian Health Service and other Federal organizations which coordinate Federal activity to:

1. Ensure that each agency's resources are effectively utilized in alleviating waste disposal problems on tribal lands;

2. Support and work with the agencies and tribal governments and organizations researching environmental risk issues for tribal populations and lands;

3. Work with agencies, tribes and tribal colleges to determine environmental education program needs of the tribes;

4. Identify through tribal and interagency communication tools for assessing tribal environmental justice concerns and issues;

5. Enhance Federal agency knowledge and understanding of the special relationship with tribes.

B. Identify opportunities to develop partnerships with academic institutions, consistent with mission needs to provide technical and financial assistance to enhance education endeavors. Expand and promote environmental justice education programs with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Progress Measurement - A DOI joint program with the Council on Environmental Quality and a tribal college to discuss NEPA and the Environmental Justice process has been proposed for 1995. To advance environmental justice implementation, the DOI will use diversity opportunities within the Department and its Bureaus in the areas of employment, contracting, and academic partnerships.

C. Identify opportunities to develop partnerships with labor organizations, business, environmental, and state and local government to enhance identifying and solving environmental justice issues.

Progress Measurement - Interior officials will work with its community based organizations, labor organizations, employee chapters such as offices of Blacks in Government and National Image, external groups such as the Western Governor's Association and the Religious Partnership Council, business organizations such as the Chemical Manufacturers Association, tribal and intertribal organizations, and others to share information on environmental justice and to engage our Federal members in strategies to improve participation in minority and low-income communities. Within the implementation plan of February 1995 specific initiatives will be identified.