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The Nature of Indian Country and Barriers to Pollution Prevention

This presentation was given to a session of the 2006 Environmental Summit. The presentation describes the author’s experiences visiting facilities located on tribal lands throughout Region 10, to 1) identify and document facilities, 2) verify they are within the confines of the Reservation and, 3) determine which environmental programs are applicable. The author inventoried over 1500 facilities on 39 reservations for 22 different EPA programs. Key findings include the following: there were a total of 1087 air program issues identified; facilities included 118 dischargers of waste to water ways, with 25 having NPDES permits and another 28 that may need permits. The author identified 55 toxic chemical issues among the facilities, 158 facilities with hazardous waste issues, and 42 facilities with solid waste issues. The presentation details various types of concerns within these broad categories.
The author identified three key barriers to successful EPA funded Pollution Prevention programming in Indian Country: 1) differing views of the environment, 2) sovereignty issues and cultural differences, and 3) social and economic realities. These are discussed in terms of the author’s experiences. A key conclusion of the study is that most of the existing problems could be solved with one-time fixes.

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