NCAI Submits Comments to EPA and Army Corps Supporting the Protection of Tribal Water Quality

On April 15, 2019, the National Congress of American Indians submitted comments to a proposed rule, offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), which would significantly revise the definition of what waters are protected under federal laws, such as the Clean Water Act (CWA).

NCAI’s Comments (available here) make several key points:

  • The proposal would reduce the number of waterways that are protected under the CWA as “Waters of the United States,” potentially resulting in impairment of tribal waters.
  • Water quality degradation may endanger tribal drinking water supplies, ecosystem services for fish and wildlife, physical flood protections, and waters that are vital to tribal agricultural, municipal and cultural uses.
  • Any WOTUS rule change must comply with the EPA and ACE’s federal trust responsibility; must not negatively impact treaty rights, reserved rights, and other trust resources including those of Alaska Native tribes and Alaska Native villages; and must evaluate cumulative impacts to tribal jurisdiction, economies, tribal government(s) and environmental resources.

While the deadline for submission of comments has passed, NCAI encourages tribal nations to reach out to EPA and ACE leadership to convey similar concerns and to request that the comment period be extended to provide meaningful consultation with tribal nations on the proposed rule.

For information or questions, please contactAndrew Wheeler, Administrator for EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20460 or R.D. James, Assistant Secretary for the Army of Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310.

NCAI Contact Info: Fatima Abbas, Policy Counselfabbas@ncai.org