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WASHINGTON (Nov. 16, 2021) – Today, alongside national tribal leaders and federal partners at the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit, EPA announced a renewal of its commitment to the Tribal Treaty Rights Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the renewed Sacred Sites Memorandum of Understanding.

“I am honored that EPA, along with 16 of its federal partners, have signed on to renew the 2016 Tribal Treaty Rights Memorandum of Understanding, said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.The revised MOU strongly reaffirms the federal government’s duty to protect on and off reservation treaty, reserved rights and other similar rights, such as rights guaranteed by federal statute.”

This MOU calls for early consideration of Tribal treaty and reserved rights in agency decision-making, for Tribal treaty and reserved rights to be integrated in agencies’ ongoing work to address the climate crisis, and for strengthening agency tribal consultation policies. The revised Tribal Treaty Rights MOU replaces the current MOU, which is set to expire in December 2021. This revised MOU will expire in 2031. 

Also highlighted at today’s panel discussion was the expansion of signatories and renewal of the Sacred Sites MOU, of which EPA is now a signatory. This MOU is a result of interest in proactive work by federal agencies to protect tribal sacred places, and allows signatories to leverage each other’s resources, expertise, and products. This MOU was first executed in 2012, renewed in 2016, and now expires in 2024.

Both of the MOUs highlighted on today’s panel discussion are key deliverables under the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA).

Background

Under the WHCNAA, EPA serves as the co-lead for both the Climate Change, Tribal Homelands, and Treaties Committee and the International Indigenous Issues Committee. As part of EPA’s deliverables on the Climate Change, Tribal Homelands, and Treaties Committee, EPA is consulting and partnering with Tribes on our Climate Adaptation Plan. For more information visit: www.epa.gov/climate-adaptation. For information on EPA’s first Tribal listening session visit: https://www.epa.gov/tribal/epa-climate-adaptation-action-plan-tribal-listening-session.

As part of EPA’s deliverables on the International Indigenous Issues Committee, EPA initiated, with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a $2 million grant program (EPA provided $1 million dollars, which were matched by the CEC), called EJ4Climate. The goal of the program is to support environmental justice and climate resilience for Indigenous Nations and communities, underserved, and vulnerable communities across North America. For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/commission-environmental-cooperation-launches-ej4climate-2-million-environmental.

For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/tribal.

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