Native American tribes will soon have more of a say when it comes to developing chemical-management and pollution-prevention programs, the news site Newsreview.com reported in its Green Guide section.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a National Tribal Toxics Committee (NTTC) to foster communication between tribes and the EPA in developing chemical strategies, the agency said in a statement.
The forum will help the EPA “better tailor and more efficiently address” issues such as lead-paint poisoning; expand pollution prevention measures, and improve the process of evaluating chemical exposures unique to tribal lands, the agency said. The idea is to increase the “already close collaboration and communication with federally recognized tribes and inter-tribal organizations on critical issues relating to chemical safety and pollution prevention that affect Native peoples.”
It will build on the EPA’s existing Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) tribal program, which is also designed to facilitate communication with Native American tribes.
“Our goal is to build more effective partnerships with tribes to safeguard and protect human health and the environment from toxic hazards and to promote pollution prevention in Indian country,” the EPA’s Pollution Prevention & Toxics Tribal Environmental Program said on its site. “Improving communication between the EPA and tribes is our main priority so that we can better exchange and coordinate information on issues facing Indian country.”
A charter is being developed for the NTTC, the EPA said. The committee will be formed in early 2011 and the first meeting held in spring 2011.
“We are committed to reducing toxic exposures and increasing pollution prevention among local tribal communities, and to respecting tribal sovereignty, culture and heritage,” EPA administrator Steve Owens told Newsreview.com.