Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is awarding $32 million in Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to tribes and tribal consortia in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
GAP funding helps tribes develop environmental protection programs and make informed decisions about issues that impact the health of their people and the quality of their environment. Since its inception, EPA's GAP program has played a critical role in achieving environmental progress and facilitating government-to-government relationships between tribes and the EPA. “Tribes continue to make great strides in environmental protection and improving public health,” said Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator. “EPA’s Indian Environmental General Assistance Program empowers tribes to build the capacity to support successful environmental programs to protect public health and their air, water and lands.”
Federally recognized tribes in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest use these capacity building grants for staff development, creating environmental plans, seeking technical assistance, developing partnerships and collaboration, and community outreach and education – the building blocks for successful environmental programs. In recent years, tribes in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest have used the funds for fish consumption studies, watershed protection, emergency response planning, shoreline erosion monitoring, and documenting traditional ecological knowledge to inform environmental program actions. GAP grants have also helped tribes with challenging conditions in rural Alaska by reducing harmful road dust produced from driving on unpaved dirt roads, encouraging proper ventilation to improve air quality in homes tightly-sealed for cold weather, and by advancing recycling and proper management of household hazardous waste.
The EPA’s Pacific Northwest Region 10 serves communities and administers federal environmental laws in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in partnership with the region’s 271 federally recognized tribes, states, and other federal agencies.
The GAP program was created by Congress in 1992 to provide grants for federally recognized tribes to plan, develop, and establish the capability to implement core environmental programs administered by EPA. EPA technical experts and tribal coordinators share their expertise with tribal environmental staff to guide and inform strategy development, research, technical needs, and compliance and enforcement.