By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency faces regulatory changes and budget cuts under the Trump administration, and there is also a proposed bill that would completely abolish the agency.
Environmentalist groups are concerned, but another group—Native American communities—is particularly worried because, unlike states, they cannot levy taxes for public work projects. They therefore rely heavily upon EPA grants to maintain water quality standards, manage solid waste and determine environmental threats.
“Reductions across the board are probably imminent,” Ken Norton, director of the Hoopa Valley Tribe Environmental Protection Agency, told PBS. “We are very worried about tribes’ abilities to protect their environmental resources.”
Since 1980, when the EPA was founded, the agency has funded 6,179 grants worth $1.7 billion for Native American projects. Without those, tribes would have to look to nonprofit and non-governmental organizations for help. These can be limited and unpredictable, however, and some tribes fear they would have to develop a volunteer-only model for environmental projects.