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Land Environmental Protection in Indian Country

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) addresses the sale, distribution and use of pesticides. The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) authorizes EPA to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and impose restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. Certain substances are generally excluded from TSCA, including pesticides, food, drugs and cosmetics. The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (PPA) focuses on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation and raw materials use.

Implementation of FIFRA, TSCA and PPA in Indian Country

Tribes and tribal operations can provide pesticide education and technical assistance, encourage compliance with and help enforce federal pesticide law, and develop and implement pollution prevention and green purchasing programs.

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Pesticide Safety

EPA directly implements and enforces FIFRA in Indian country; however, some tribes have cooperative agreements with EPA to help enforce FIFRA and provide pesticide education and technical assistance.

EPA also supports and partners with the Tribal Pesticide Program Council (TPPC) Exit, a network of tribal representatives and intertribal consortia that serve as a tribal technical resource, program development and policy dialogue group focused on pesticide issues and concerns.

Pesticide Applicator Certification in Indian Country

State certifications to apply restricted use pesticides (RUPs) are generally not valid in Indian country; therefore, to use RUPs legally in Indian country, pesticide applicators must obtain a federal certification from their EPA regional office.

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Chemical safety

EPA directly implements TSCA in Indian country, and works in partnership with tribes to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.

Current Chemical Risk Reduction Activities

As part of EPA’s comprehensive efforts to enhance the Agency’s chemicals management program, EPA has developed chemical action plans on the chemicals that highlight the Agency’s concerns with the chemicals and possible actions for addressing those concerns.

Some regulatory measures taken under TSCA apply to specific chemical substances.

Assessment for TSCA Work Plan Chemicals

EPA has identified a work plan of chemicals for further assessment under TSCA. The 2014 changes to the TSCA Work Plan reflect updated data submitted to EPA by chemical companies on chemical releases and potential exposures.

Pollution Prevention (P2) under PPA

EPA issues pollution prevention grants to federally recognized tribes and states to promote P2 through source reduction and resource conservation. P2 includes practices that increase efficiency in the use of energy, water or other natural resources, and protect resources through conservation.

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Emergency Planning and Right to Know

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) is designed to improve community access to information about chemical hazards and to facilitate the development of chemical emergency response plans by tribal governments. EPCRA establishes reporting obligations for facilities that store or manage specified chemicals.

EPCRA Implementation in Indian Country

EPA directly implements EPCRA in Indian country, but tribes are eligible for certain program delegations. Tribes can establish tribal emergency response commissions (TERCs), which are responsible for coordinating certain emergency response activities, and can appoint tribal emergency planning committees (TEPCs).

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Solid and Hazardous Waste

Tribal governments may engage in solid waste management within their jurisdiction. Some tribes conduct waste management operations (e.g., waste collection and disposal) directly. Other tribes contract those services to private parties or enter into agreements with neighboring state or local governments. Proper management of solid waste is critical to public health and community resources.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses nonhazardous (Subtitle D) and hazardous (Subtitle C) waste management activities and contains provisions governing underground storage tanks (USTs).

RCRA Implementation in Indian Country

EPA directly implements RCRA in Indian country. Tribes are not eligible to receive delegated programs under RCRA.

Major RCRA provisions of interest to tribes include:

  • Hazardous Waste
    Hazardous waste regulations establish a comprehensive “cradle-to-grave” system governing hazardous waste from the point of generation to disposal. Household hazardous waste is subject to RCRA regulations.
  • Solid Waste and Recycling
    Solid Waste management regulations establish standards and guidelines for solid waste and recycling collection and disposal programs, as well as regulations for design, operation, maintenance and closure for municipal solid waste landfills.
  • Underground Storage Tanks (UST)
    Under RCRA Subtitle I EPA developed a comprehensive regulatory program for USTs storing petroleum or certain hazardous substances to protect the environment and human health from UST releases. EPA’s regulations set minimum standards for new tanks, require owners of substandard tanks to upgrade or close. The regulations address a variety of other requirements, including those related to leak detection and cleanup of releases when they occur. Some USTs, such as many home heating oil tanks, are not federally regulated.
  • Above Ground Storage Tanks
    The Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) program regulates the storage of oil in above ground containers. These regulations requires above ground oil storage facilities to prepare and comply with written, site-specific, spill prevention plans.

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Superfund (CERCLA)

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, authorizes EPA to respond to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health, welfare or the environment. CERCLA also enables EPA to compel parties responsible for environmental contamination to clean it up or to reimburse the Superfund for response costs.

Implementation of CERCLA in Indian Country

EPA directly implements CERCLA in Indian country. Tribes are accorded the same status as states, and are eligible for certain program delegations, under much of CERCLA. This allows for a meaningful and substantial role in Superfund responses and includes an EPA request for tribal concurrence on National Priorities List (NPL) site listings on tribal lands.

Major CERCLA provisions of interest to tribes include:

EPA Response to Hazardous Substance Releases/National Priorities List (NPL)
EPA implements hazardous substance responses according to procedures outlined in the National Oil and Hazardous< Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The NCP includes provisions for permanent cleanups, known as remedial actions, and other cleanups, known as removals. EPA generally takes remedial actions only at sites on the NPL.

National Resources Damages (NRD)
Natural resource injuries may occur at sites as a result of releases of hazardous substances or oil. CERCLA provides authority for assessment and restoration of natural resources that have been injured by hazardous substances.

Natural Resource Damages Trustees
EPA is not a Natural Resource Trustee, nor is it authorized to act on behalf of Natural Resource Trustees. The Oil
Pollution Act requires EPA to consult with affected trustees on removal actions taken in conjunction with any discharge of
oil. Under both CERCLA and OPA, federal, tribal, and state “Natural Resource Trustees” are authorized to “represent” their
natural resources.

Brownfields - Cleaning Up and Reinvesting in Contaminated Property
“Brownfields” sites are properties, the redevelopment of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. The Brownfields Law authorizes EPA to address brownfields sites that may not be addressed under Superfund.

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