Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples

Administrator Gina McCarthy signing the memo to issue the policy during a meeting of the EPA National Tribal Operations Committee, held at EPA Headquarters.
Administrator Gina McCarthy signing the memo to issue the policy during a meeting of the EPA National Tribal Operations Committee, held at EPA Headquarters.

For many years, EPA’s tribal program and environmental justice programs focused on helping federally recognized tribes develop their own environmental programs.  However, EPA was also asked to work with other indigenous peoples, including tribal members and grassroots organizations.  

In July 2014, EPA completed its Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples.  This Policy explains how the Agency works with tribes and other indigenous groups and members to protect the environment and public health in Indian country.  The Policy also talks about how EPA works with indigenous peoples throughout the United States.


"EPA must work each and every day -- hand-in-hand with other federal agencies, states, tribes and local communities -- to improve the health of American families and protect the environment one community at a time, all across the country." — EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

The Policy describes how EPA works with federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples throughout the United States, and with others living in Indian country.  The seventeen principles of the Policy help EPA protect the environment and public health and address environmental justice concerns in Indian country.  The Policy also includes implementation tools available to the Agency.


The Policy focuses on EPA’s work with federally recognized tribes, state recognized tribes, tribal members, indigenous community-based/grassroots organizations, Native Hawaiians, individual Native Americans, and others living in Indian country.  The Policy also discusses EPA’s work with other federal agencies, state agencies, and other interested groups.

Focus Areas

EPA is working to incorporate the seventeen environmental justice principles in the following four areas:

  • Direct implementation of federal environmental programs in Indian country, and throughout the United States.
  • Work with federally recognized tribes/tribal governments on environmental justice.
  • Work with indigenous peoples (state recognized tribes, tribal members, etc.) on environmental justice.
  • Collaborate with federal agencies and others on environmental justice issues of tribes, indigenous peoples, and others living in Indian country.

Development of the Policy

EPA began the development of the Policy in 2011, tasking the EPA Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Environmental Justice Work Group, comprised of EPA staff, with creating a draft policy.

In addition, the Agency sought advice and recommendations from the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee to the EPA.  The NEJAC's Indigenous People Work Group (IPWG), made up of tribal and indigenous environmental justice stakeholder representatives, assisted the NEJAC in providing advice and recommendations to EPA on how the Agency can work effectively with federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples to address their environmental justice concerns.

The NEJAC provided the following advice and recommendations to help EPA develop an effective Policy:

Consultation with tribes, as well as outreach to indigenous stakeholders, was a critical part of the development of the policy.  

  • The first set of tribal consultation and public comment periods were held February through April 2012. EPA focused on obtaining input on the four focus areas the Agency was planning for the Policy.
  • The second tribal consultation period, which focused on the Working Draft of the Policy, started in November 2012 and concluded in February 2013. This consultation overlappped with the indigenous peoples and public comment period held January through February 2013.
  • The third and final tribal consultation and public comment periods, held May 5 to June 5, 2014, focused on the Revised Draft of the Policy.

EPA’s Environmental Justice Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Advisors

Each EPA program and region has designated an Environmental Justice Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Advisor (EJ TIPA), to provide advice and facilitate effective implementation of this Policy. The Office of Environmental Justice chairs the EJ TIPA group.


Primary EJ TIPA

Backup EJ TIPA(s)

Office of Water

Karen Gude (gude.karen@epa.gov), 202-564-9567

Felicia Wright (wright.felicia@epa.gov), 202-566-1886

Alice Walker (walker.alice@epa.gov), 202-529-7534

Office of Air and Radiation

Pat Childers (childers.pat@epa.gov), 202-564-1082


Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Kent Benjamin (benjamin.kent@epa.gov), 202-564-9095

Pat Carey, carey.pat@epa.gov), 202-566-0199

Janice Sims, (sims.janiceHQ@epa.gov), 202-566-2892

Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Oscar Morales (morales.oscar@epa.gov)

Amanda Hauff (hauff.amanda@epa.gov), (202) 566-0603

Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

Jonathan Binder (binder.jonathan@epa.gov), 202-564-2516

Office of Research and Development

Fred Hauchman (hauchman.fred@epa.gov), 202-564-3151

Mary Manibusan (manibusan.mary@epa.gov), 202-564-2827

Office of General Counsel

Tricia Jefferson (jefferson.tricia@epa.gov), 202-564-6628

Office of Environmental Information

Elizabeth "Beth" Jackson (jackson.elizabeth@epa.gov), 202-566-6633

Office of International and Tribal Affairs

Dona Harris (harris.dona@epa.gov), 202-564-6633

Office of Environmental Justice

Danny Gogal (gogal.danny@epa.gov), 202-564-2576

Region 1

Deborah Brown (brown.deborah@epa.gov), 617-918-1706

Region 2

Grant Jonathan (jonathan.grant@epa.gov), 212-637-3843

Annette Poliwka (poliwka.annette@epa.gov), 212-637-3884

Region 3

Theresa (Terry) Gallagher (gallagher.theresa@epa.gov), 215-814-2923

Region 4

Lisa Berrios (berrios.lisa@epa.gov), 404-562-8318

Region 5

Alan Walts (walts.alan@epa.gov), 312-353-8894

Region 6

Randy Gee (gee.randy@epa.gov), 214-665-8355

Region 7

Althea Moses (moses.althea@epa.gov), 913-551-7649

Region 8

Suzanne Bohan (bohan.suzanne@epa.gov), 303-312-6925

Region 9

Deldi Reyes (reyes.deldi@epa.gov), 415-972-3795

Erskine Benjamin (benjamin.erskine@epa.gov), 415-972-3561

Region 10

Jim Woods (woods.jim@epa.gov), 206-553-2871

 Running Grass, (grass.running@epa.gov), 206-553-2899