DOI's Mission and Commitment to Environmental Justice: The mission of the Department of the Interior (DOI) is "to protect and provide access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage and honor our trust responsibilities to tribes."

Environmental Justice (EJ) is necessarily a part of our mission and therefore continues to grow into a symbiotic relationship with DOI's activities. DOI has used its information and resources to help devise innovative solutions to environmental justice issues. DOI encourages involvement of minority and low-income communities in our decision making processes. DOI assures public access to our environmental information. Also, DOI strives to institutionalize the progress made in EJ and facilitates continued growth in EJ by appointing an Environmental Justice Coordinator in for each of DOI's eight bureaus. In furtherance of DOI's commitment to EJ, DOI prepared an official Environmental Justice Strategy. The Environmental Justice Strategy and a list of DOI's Environmental Justice Coordinators can be found at www.doi.gov/oepc/justice.html. Links to the EJ Coordinators are provided in the text below. Click here for a link to the EPA Environmental Justice home page.

Examples of DOI's Current or Planned Environmental Justice Programs, Policies and Activities

Examples of Environmental Justice Integrated into DOI's Programs, Policies and Activities

Examples of Human Health Research Related Activities

Examples of Use of natural Resources Among Populations

Examples of How DOI has Encouraged Greater Public Outreach, Education and Participation with Minority and/or Low Income Populations

Examples of How DOI has, Through its Policies, Programs and/or Activities, Indirectly Benefited Low Income and Minority Populations

List of EJ Coordinators in Each of DOI's Bureaus

Examples of DOI's Current or Planned Environmental Justice Programs, Policies and Activities:

1) Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative. Under the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative, a program in place since 1994, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) provides "seed money" to States to assist local efforts to recover from environmental, economic and public health impacts associated with abandoned coalmines in low-income Appalachian communities. To date, sixty- eight "Clean Streams" projects have been approved in thirteen Eastern and Midwestern states.

OSM EJ Coordinator
Vermell Davis
gvdavis@osmre.gov

2) Interagency Working Group. DOI is an active participant in the Interagency Working Group (IWG) established by EO 12898. The goal of the IWG is to increase the efforts of government agencies to identify and use Federal resources to the benefit of environmentally and economically distressed communities. DOI has partnered with several government agencies on four of the fifteen IWG Environmental Justice Demonstration Projects. These projects are:

Bridges to Friendship: Nurturing Environmental Justice in Southeast and Southwest Washington, D.C. The Bridges to Friendship is a community-based, sustainable development partnership of community organizations, local businesses, D.C. government agencies and federal government organizations that have come together in order to aid revitalization of the southern quadrants of Washington, D.C. This alliance focuses on enhancing the quality of life and preserving the natural and cultural heritage of these areas by promoting economic development and environmental protection. DOI will provide its expertise in design, development and implementation of "green space" beautification and landscaping projects; will assist in coordination and development of youth mentoring and job training programs; will work with the D.C. metro bus system to prevent the pollution of waterways by storm run-off; and will help modify the bus system to better accommodate low income populations.

NPS EJ Coordinator
Tammy Whittington
Tammy_whittington@nps.gov

Environmental Justice in Indian Country: A Roundtable to Addresses Conceptual, Political, and Statutory Issues. Federal agencies, in collaboration with tribes, tribal organizations, and other interested parties, conducted a roundtable discussion to identify a means to address the broad range of tribal cultural, religious, economic, social and legal issues, etc. which are related to EJ in Indian country. The DOI Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) played a major role in the planning of the roundtable.

BIA EJ Coordinator
Judith Wilson
Judith.wilson@bia.gov

Metlakatla Indian Community Environmental Justice Demonstration Project: The Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) Environmental Justice Demonstration Project, held on the Annette Islands Reserve, partners federal, tribal and local organizations and government agencies in order to address polluted areas and to develop and implement the MIC Master Plan. The MIC has been devastated by high unemployment (85%) caused by the closure of their timber mill. MIC is seeking a new means of employment for its members.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was established between the MIC and the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The signatories to the MOU created a plan that outlines specific sites for a clean up, assigned federal agency leads and provided a clean-up schedule for each site.

BIA EJ Coordinator
Judith Wilson
Judith.wilson@bia.gov

New York City Alternative Fuel Vehicle Summit. A partnership of federal agencies, local officials, and community organizations will conduct a series of meetings culminating in an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Summit. The goal of this summit is to accelerate the conversion of vehicular fleets operating in NYC metropolitan area to cleaner fuels. This conversion to cleaner energies will ultimately mean better air quality for heavily congested environmental justice neighborhoods. DOI's specific role is to organize these community and federal planning meetings

Office of Property Acquisition and Managment

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Examples of Environmental Justice Integrated into DOI's Programs, Policies and Activities:

1) Region IX Environmental Justice Implementation Workshop. In May 1998, DOI's Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance, partnered with US EPA, co-sponsored the Region IX Environmental Justice Implementation workshop. This unique one-day training and education exercise in Sacramento, CA allowed DOI representatives from all eight of DOI's bureaus throughout the region share their efforts on environmental justice while simultaneously gaining valuable training.

Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance
Regional Office in Oakland
Pat Port
Patricia_Port@ios.doi.gov

2) Department-Wide Environmental Conferences. Since 1994, Environmental Justice has been a featured subject for panel sessions and training opportunities at the Department-wide Environmental Conferences. During the 2003 Conference, there were two separate sessions offered to the more than 400 conference participants. The sessions were chaired by EPA's Office of Environmental Justice.

Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance

3) Environmental Justice Coordinators. All of DOI’s bureaus have designated Environmental Justice Coordinators. Each is identified on the "Environmental Justice Contact List." In addition, many bureaus have made further contact designations in their field offices. For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has established an environmental justice team in each of its seven regional offices. Training has been provided to each of the environmental justice teams and to project managers in each region. An invitation to participate in their training was extended to the State personnel as well.

List of EJ Coordinators:

BIA, Judith Wilson, Judith.wilson@bia.gov
BLM, Shannon Stewart, Shannon_stewart@blm.gov
BOR, Adrienne Marks, amarks@usbr.gov)
BOR, Theresa Taylor, ttaylor@do.usbr.gov)
FWS, Kim Lambert, Kim_lambert@fws.gov
BOEMRE, Rodney Cluck, Rodney.Cluck@BOEMRE.gov
NPS, Tammy Whittington, Tammy_whittington@nps.gov
OSM, Vermell Davis, gvdavis@osmre.gov
USGS, Susan M. Marcus smarcus@usgs.gov

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Examples of Human Health Research Related Activities:

The Department of the Interior does not routinely conduct human health research per se. However, we are concerned with any potential effects that natural resource management polices may have on human health.

1) Navajo Sheep Dip Remediation. Using funds from DOI's Central Hazardous Materials Fund, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is addressing hazardous substance contamination at numerous sheep dip sites on the Navajo Indian Reservation. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has deemed these sites to be a threat to public health. The funds support project management of the clean up, public communication and relations, remediation of contamination and the development of a web page based status report.

BIA EJ Coordinator,
Judith Wilson
Judith.wilson@bia.gov

2) Social Science Research for Alaskan Natives. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) conducts social science research relating to subsistence issues that affect Alaskan Natives at one of its field stations at the University of Washington. For example, studies were conducted in Denali National Park and Preserve on the traditional use of cabins and other shelters that had formerly been associated with trapping and other subsistence uses. The historic/traditional use of the structures was of particular interest to residents of the Athabaskan villages of Nikolai and Telida. USGS also studied the uses of plant materials by contemporary Native Alaskans at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Residents of the communities of Nondalton, Newhalen, Illiamna, Pedro Bay, and Lime Village participated in the research. USGS also conducted research on the management of the Northwest Arctic Caribou herd through a cooperative effort by the IZupiat communities of Ambler, Kiana, Noatak, and Kotzebue. Separately, the cultural significance and historic patterns of the use of bird eggs by the Hoonah Indian Association were studied in relationship to natural resource issues in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

USGS EJ Coordinator
Susan M. Marcus
smarcus@usgs.com

3) Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). DOI is working with tribes, NGO's, the State of Alaska and other federal agencies to address the problem of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and to help secure a treaty to ban their use around the world. A group of contaminants that includes PCBs, dioxin, DDT and other pesticides, POPs are an increasing concern among indigenous peoples, especially in Alaska. As these contaminants are passed along in the food chain, their concentration magnifies, posing potential risks to indigenous peoples who eat a traditional diet. Because of their disproportionate reliance on local sources of food including fish, seals, whales, caribou, and a variety of other animals, native tribes represent one of the groups that is most vulnerable to POPs exposure.

USGS, Arctic Council Secretariat

Useful links:

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Examples of Use of Natural Resources Among Populations:

1) Sea Otters and Sea Urchins. Scientists working for USGS conduct surveys of sea otter populations off the coast of Washington. Results of annual otter counts are provided to the Makah Nation. The sea urchins are native to waters adjacent to Makah land. The urchins are both of a commercial value to tribal members and a culinary delicacy relished by local sea otters. The Makah Nation monitors sea otter population numbers to ascertain potential conflicts with a possible commercial Tribal fishery for sea urchins.

USGS EJ Coordinator
Susan M. Marcus
smarcus@usgs.com

2) Sea Birds Feed on Endangered Salmon. The USGS cooperated with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission to determine the impact of colonial water birds on young salmonids in the lower Columbia River. Salmon and steelhead stocks in the Columbia Basin, the majority of which are listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, are eaten in great quantities by Caspian terns, double-crested Cormorants and various gull species. The predominant area for this predation is the Columbia River estuary, home of the world's largest Caspian tern colony and the largest double-crested cormorant colony on the Pacific coast of North America. A team of fishery biologists from USGS, the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and Oregon State University measured the loss of salmonids due to bird predation. They determined that restoring former bird nesting colonies outside the Columbia River estuary, thus attracting sea birds away from the estuary, would significantly reduce predation and enhance the survival of young salmonids. The USGS funded two Inter-Tribal Fish Commission biologists to help with the project and a member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation as a seasonal technician.

USGS EJ Coordinator
Susan M. Marcus
smarcus@usgs.com

3) Salmon River Watershed Analysis, including Channel and Floodplain Processes, Quinault Indian Nation. The Quinault Indian Nation is collaborating with the USGS and several other agencies to conduct an analysis of the Salmon River watershed. The watershed covers three square miles of forested land, much of which has been affected by timber harvesting. The River has native runs of Chinook and Coho salmon, as well as steelhead trout. The Quinault Nation also operates a salmon hatchery on the River. The watershed analysis will serve as a tool to support decision-making processes in managing the river system and restoring salmon and trout runs. Under two separate projects, the USGS is leading the efforts for two modules of the watershed analysis--the hydrology and geomorphology modules.

USGS EJ Coordinator
Susan M. Marcus
smarcus@usgs.com

 

Useful Link:

USGS American Indian/Alaskan Native Coordinating Team

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Examples of How DOI has Encouraged Greater Public Outreach, Education and Participation with Minority and/or Low Income Populations:

1) Public Notices. The Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) Environmental Justice guidance on Indian lands includes such measures as providing local tribal chapters or other recognized groups with copies of all public notices published by OSM or the coal operator; easily understandable descriptions and maps of the proposed action; location of any related materials for public examination; radio announcements on local-language radio stations; advertising meetings and hearings on local newspapers and on local radio stations; holding meetings at a local convenient to affected populations; providing translators for non-English speaking participants; providing native-language educational materials on mining and reclamation operations; and involving local communities in development of post-mining land uses.

OSM EJ Coordinator
Vermell Davis
gvdavis@osmre.gov

2) Alaska Native Input to Environmental Justice-Related Studies. The Mineral Management Service (BOEMRE) is gathering information to adequately address the effects of its offshore oil and gas program on environmental justice concerns in Alaska, including subsistence hunting. While gathering this information, BOEMRE has sought both traditional knowledge and the stakeholders' input. Such stakeholders include the Alaska villages, the Native whaling groups, and the North Slope Borough along the Beaufort Sea. An example of such information gathering applicable to environmental justice concerns is a multi-year study entitled "A Quantitative Description of Potential Impacts of OCS Activities on Bowhead Whale Hunting and Subsistence Activities in the Beaufort Sea and Recommended Mitigation Including Compensation." This study originated from Native concerns expressed during a meeting in Barrow with the BOEMRE in March 2000. Native (e.g., Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and North Slope Borough) input and approval was fundamental to the study design; it includes a survey/questionnaire of the Inupiat people of the North Slope regarding their observations and concerns.

BOEMRE EJ Coordinator
Rodney Cluck
Rodney.Cluck@BOEMRE.gov

3) Community Outreach. The National Park Service (NPS) Southwest System Support Office, which covers units of the National Park System in Texas and Oklahoma, most of New Mexico, and southern portions of Arizona and Colorado, is working with the Hispanic Radio Network to provide public service announcements in Spanish to inform Hispanic communities of how their heritage is linked with particular parks in the area. This office hopes to work out a similar project for Indian communities. The main objective is to ensure that Hispanic and Indian communities have greater access to and information regarding their natural resources and cultural heritage.

NPS EJ Coordinator
Tammy Whittington
Tammy_whittington@nps.gov

 

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Examples of How DOI has, Through its Policies, Programs and/or Activities, Indirectly Benefited Low Income and Minority Populations:

1) Mekoryuk Native Village. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funded a training project at Mekoryuk Native Village, on Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska. Members of the village were trained to perform asbestos abatement. Villagers were then able to abate the asbestos in an old BIA school located in their village as well as seek outside employment using their new abatement skills.

BIA EJ Coordinator
Judith Wilson
Judith.wilson@bia.gov

2) Earth Sciences for Indigenous Peoples. The U.S. Geological Society (USGS) worked cooperatively with the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center of the Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) to develop an introductory, college-level course in the earth sciences. The primary goal of the project was to integrate traditional Native American teachings with conventional Western scientific concepts of the earth. Accomplishments in FY 1999 included the development of place-based teaching modules for tribal homelands in the Great Plains and Northern Rocky Mountains/Coastal regions. Internship positions for Native American students on USGS research projects were established. USGS cooperated with HINU to select students and arrange for student activities on USGS research projects. A video highlighting Native American perspectives in the earth sciences is also being produced.

USGS EJ Coordinator
Susan M. Marcus
smarcus@usgs.com

3) Small Operator Assistance Program (SOAP). Under SOAP, State regulatory authorities provide Federal funds to help small coal operators offset some of the costs of meeting permit requirements in order to remain competitive within the coal industry. A very high percent (over 60%) of small operators remine and reclaim abandoned mine sites, often located in poor and disadvantaged areas, that are of little or no interest to larger coal companies because of the small profit margin involved. By helping small operators recover coal from abandoned mines and then fully reclaim those mines, SOAP is a cost-effective way of cleaning up the environment while providing jobs and stimulating the local economies in some of the poorest communities in America.

OSM EJ Coordinator
Vermell Davis
gvdavis@osmre.gov

For technical problems, contact Emily_Joseph@ios.doi.gov
For information updates or suggestions, email Loretta_Sutton@ios.doi.gov