On Monday, July 18, 2022, U.S. House of Representatives, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva held a roundtable with tribal leaders regarding his proposed bill, H.R.2021 – Environmental Justice for All Act. Read the act here.
The bill calls for Congressional action to comprehensively address environmental hazards that disproportionally impact low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities by restoring, reaffirming, and reconciling environmental justice and civil rights. The bill covers four broad areas: agency accountability, civil rights enforcement, impacts from pollution, and access to resources.
Provisions of the bill would:
- Establish National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) standards for when a proposed action may affect an Indian Tribe, including seeking Tribal representation in the process in a manner that is consistent with government-to-government relationship, the Federal government’s trust responsibility, and any treaty rights.
- Codify the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) “Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes: Guidance for Discussing Tribal Treaty Rights” into law.
- Establish the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which will include Indian Tribes and other Indigenous groups as members and shall provide independent advice and recommendations to the EPA regarding environmental justice issues.
- Establishing a Tribal Grant Program for culturally and linguistically appropriate protocols, activities, and mechanisms for addressing issues relating to environmental justice.
- Amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to provide grants to further the achievement of tribal coastal zone objectives, including protection, restoration, and preservation of areas tribes hold ecological, cultural, or sacred significance.
A report released by Grijalva and Rep. A. Donald McEachin documenting environmental injustice provides further support for the provisions in the bill. The report is available here.
For more information about H.R.2021 and to submit comments, go to https://naturalresources.house.gov/environmental-justice.