EPA’s work with Tribal Nations

I’ve been spending a lot of time in New Mexico this month. It’s easy for me since it’s my long time home. Yes, I am from New Mexico and the first EPA Region 6 Administrator appointed from outside Texas.

New Mexico near Acoma Pueblo and Grants, NM

New Mexico near Acoma Pueblo and Grants, NM

Earlier in the month, I co-hosted our Regional Tribal Operations Committee meeting with Shawn Howard from Citizen Potawatomi Nation at the Isleta Pueblo. At EPA, we call it RTOC for short. The meeting brings together environmental managers from the 66 tribes located in our region and the EPA senior managers.

Quick quiz- Which state in Region 6 doesn’t have a federally recognized tribe? (Check the end of this blog post for the answer).

We talked about new regulations/requirements, tight budgets and balancing priorities. Probably pretty similar to any family sit down meeting – and yes, we are kind of a family too. Many tribes run environmental programs and play a critical role in environment and public health protection – especially important to people in places where EPA isn’t close by. We cannot do our job of environmental protection without them. So these are really important conversations.

Curry and NSA Holian at Acoma Pueblo Council Chambers

Curry and NSA Holian at Acoma Pueblo Council Chambers

This past week, I was joined by Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Deputy Director Brain Holian to meet with Tribal leaders from Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo as well as Navajo Nation President Shelly and discuss uranium mining pollution issues facing the Nations.

EPA was the first federal agency to have a written tribal policy. I am proud to say I had a tribal collaboration policy as the Environment Cabinet Secretary in NM.

The Federal government’s trust responsibility to Tribal Nations is always on the forefront of our minds at EPA.

This week – I am home in New Mexico again and joined by an EPA Assistant Administrator from Washington DC for the 2013 Tribal Lands & Environment Forum. Mathy Stanislaus is visiting the Santa Ana Pueblo for a nationwide meeting with over 350 Tribal Nations to talk about environmental and public health protection.

Sound familiar? It should because, at EPA, we all take the job of working with Tribal Nations seriously.

Oh – if you answered Arkansas, you are correct. They don’t have any federally recognized tribes.

Ron Curry is the Regional Administrator for Region 6, overseeing EPA operations in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 tribes. He has more than 36 years of management experience in local, state, and federal government, as well as the private sector. Ron also served as administrator for the Village of Los Ranchos and as a city manager in Santa Fe. Previously, Ron served on the Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board, an interstate government agency, from 2003 thru 2010. Ron has over 20 years of experience in private business including 10 years owning a small business franchise started with his father.

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