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Tribal Lands Cleanup and Spill Prevention Programs

EPA takes strides to prevent and cleanup contamination and contaminated sites located on or near Tribal lands. Our programs work hand-in-hand with tribes to ensure we protect their health and the environment.

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Tribal Superfund Program

EPA’s Superfund program implements the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) which provides broad authority for federal program response to releases of hazardous substances and pollutants or contaminants. Under certain provisions of CERCLA, the governing body of tribes are afforded substantially the same treatment as states for many response-related purposes, including: notification of releases, consultation on remedial action, access to information, health authorities, and roles and responsibilities under the National Contingency Plan (NCP). CERCLA section 104 allows EPA to enter into cooperative agreements with eligible tribes to perform or participate in Superfund-eligible site response activities. (EPA retains final oversight authority.) Learn more about the Superfund Program in Indian country.

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Tribes and Federal Facilities

Tribal governments have distinct roles in cleanups of federal facilities under treaties with the U.S. government. Accordingly, EPA works in partnership with tribal governments, both at the facility level and at the national policy-making level. The framework for EPA tribal involvement is a tribal strategy that is designed to address the needs of—and mitigate impacts to—American Indian tribes, including Alaskan Native villages, living on or near federal facilities. Learn more about tribes and federal facilities.

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Tribal Brownfields Program

EPA manages the cleanup, redevelopment and revitalization of brownfield sites under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfields Law). The Brownfields Law authorizes funding for assessment and cleanup of brownfields properties and for state and tribal response programs. The Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act was enacted on March 23, 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The BUILD Act reauthorized EPA’s Brownfields Program, and made amendments to the 2002 Brownfields Law. Learn more about the tribal Brownfields Program.

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Underground Storage Tanks in Indian Country

EPA implements the underground storage tank (UST) program in Indian country. Left unattended, petroleum releases from USTs can contaminate soil, groundwater, surface water, or indoor air. We provide support to tribal governments to prevent and clean up petroleum releases from USTs by:

  • Providing technical and financial assistance;
  • Supporting tribal governments to build and improve their UST programs;
  • Enhancing relationships with tribal partners; and
  • Improving information sharing between tribes and EPA.

Of the more than 570 federally recognized tribes, about 200 have federally-regulated USTs on their lands. Learn more about USTs in Indian country.

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Tribal Waste Management Program

EPA encourages environmentally sound waste management practices that promote resource conservation through recycling, recovery, reduction, clean up, and elimination of waste under the authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Tribal Waste Management Program provides national policy direction, and partners with the EPA Regions and other federal agencies to assist tribes with the management of their waste. The Tribal Waste Management Program also provides technical assistance, training and funding, facilitates waste program peer matches among tribes, education, and outreach to tribes. Learn more about the tribal waste management program.

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Emergency Response and Management

EPA responds to oil spills, chemical, biological, radiological releases, and large-scale national emergencies. EPA also provides additional response assistance when state, tribal, or local first responder capabilities have been exhausted or when additional support is requested. Learn more about emergency response and management.

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