The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is initiating consultation and coordination with federally recognized tribes to receive input on how to improve the national allocation of Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP) funds to tribal and intertribal consortia recipients. The current funding allocation formula, attached, is informed by the GAP Act of 19921. The Act requires that each grant awarded for a fiscal year shall be no less than $75,000. In the current national allocation methodology, EPA targets $110,000 per federally recognized tribe.
In February 2008, EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report with recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of the GAP program2. In summary, the report recommended that the EPA American Indian Environmental Office (AIEO): (1) develop a framework for tribal capacity building; (2) require tribal environmental plans; and (3) revise how GAP funding is distributed to tribes to place more emphasis on tribes’ prior progress, environmental capacity needs, and long-term goals. Since receiving these recommendations, AIEO has implemented EPA-Tribal Environmental Plans (ETEPs) and is working to improve the 2013 GAP Guidance to be responsive to both the OIG report and tribal environmental capacity building needs. Addressing the third recommendation, the national allocation, is timely to coincide with revisions to the GAP Guidance, including new service delivery authorities, and most importantly, to ensure that EPA is addressing tribal environmental capacity building needs and helping tribes achieve their environmental goals.
EPA is now initiating a tribal consultation process that seeks input on how to allocate GAP funds to address diverse and unique tribal environmental capacity needs and support environmental protection in Indian country. Once input from tribal representatives is gathered and fully considered through this tribal consultation and coordination process, EPA may propose to revise its GAP national allocation policy.
This consultation and coordination process will be conducted in accordance with the EPA Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes (https://www.epa.gov/tribal/forms/consultation-and-coordination-tribes). EPA invites you and your designated consultation representative(s) to participate in this process. EPA’s anticipated timeline for the consultation and coordination period is expected to extend from Tuesday, July 20 – Wednesday, November 17.