WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $118,000 to the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico for environmental regulatory programs and to address environmental issues on Tribal lands. Current environmental regulatory programs in the Pueblo of Laguna include management of water (and surface water) quality, air quality and hazardous waste cleanup.
“New Mexico’s Pueblos represent a rich, cultural component of our state’s DNA,” said Udall, who serves as the lead Democrat on the Interior Appropriations subcommittee which funds the Environmental Protection Agency. “Unfortunately, environmental pollution has threatened these lands and the health of the New Mexicans that live there. The federal government has a trust and treaty responsibility to ensure every Native American has access to clean air and safe drinking water. This award is an important step toward ensuring that the Pueblo of Laguna has the proper resources needed to address environmental hazards and safeguard the land that sustains our communities but we must do more. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I’ll keep fighting for strong investments in Indian Country to ensure that we better meet our obligations to Tribes, and deliver vital resources based on meaningful government-to-government consultation.”
“Protecting the health of land and water is an essential part of tribal sovereignty. I am proud to support this critical federal funding to help the Pueblo of Laguna strengthen their environmental protection and sustainability programs. I will continue working to ensure the federal government meets its full trust responsibility to tribes so they can have the clean air and safe drinking water that they deserve,” said Heinrich.
“The federal government has a responsibility to ensure all Native Americans have the opportunity to succeed, and that starts with providing the resources tribal communities need to access clean air and safe drinking water. These funds are an important step towards addressing the environmental pollution that threatens the health and safety of the Pueblo of Laguna and fulfilling our trust responsibility to Native American sovereign governments. However, the work is not over and I’ll keep fighting to leverage federal investments for the betterment of Indian Country,” Torres Small said.
The EPA funding is part of the General Assistance Program (GAP). The primary purpose of GAP is to support the development of core Tribal environmental protection programs. Other activities funded by the award include environmental training and community outreach.
In 1992, Congress passed the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act, which authorizes EPA to provide GAP grants to federally-recognized tribes and tribal groups for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian country, as well as for developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands.