September 9, 2016

Democrats Request GAO Investigation on Policies Protecting Health and Environmental Safety of Tribal Communities

Holland & Knight Native American Law Blog
Kayla Gebeck Carroll

Recognizing the disproportionate rates of environmental injustice in Indian Country, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, held a roundtable on June 14 to hear directly from tribal leaders on ways Congress can work collaboratively with tribes to address current inadequacies in consultation policies and mitigation efforts regarding development projects on or contiguous to tribal lands and trust resources and have a direct impact on the health and well-being of tribal communities.

For more information, please read Congressman Ruiz Collaborates with Indian Country to Address Environmental Injustice Concerns.

In response to the concerns raised at the roundtable, which have been heightened by the recent dialogue surrounding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the cultural and environmental impacts of the Dakota Access pipeline and the ongoing controversy surrounding the Gold King mine waste water spill, Congressman Ruiz and Congressman Raul Grijlava (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, urged the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue an investigative report reviewing compliance with tribal consultation policies, adequacy of Superfund mitigation efforts on or near tribal lands and communities, and effectiveness of current programs and policies protecting tribal lands and trust resources. Ruiz and Grijalva were joined by 23 Democrats in submitting their request.

"Tribes have the right to self-determination and the right to have a say in decisions that impact their health, sacred lands, and cultural preservation. Too often, there is not meaningful or any consultation with tribal communities regarding development on or near tribal lands. That's why I am calling for an investigative report to review and analyze any systemic noncompliance with federal policies that require regular and meaningful consultation with tribes," said Dr. Ruiz.

For more information, please read Ruiz, Grijalva Call for Greater Oversight to Protect the Health and Environmental Safety of Tribal Communities.

To read the investigation request, please read Tribal Environmental Justice GAO Request.

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