SEATTLE — Friday the U.S. EPA announced a $20 million funding program to assist Alaska tribal entities in addressing legacy contamination on lands conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
The contaminants on some of these lands— arsenic, asbestos, lead, mercury, pesticides, PCBs, and petroleum products—pose health concerns to Alaska Native communities, negatively impact subsistence resources, and hamper economic activity.
The Department of Defense, Department of Interior and EPA are leading the initiative, with participation from Bureau of Land Management, Department of Justice and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies are working together to leverage resources and expertise to accelerate cleanup of contaminated ANCSA lands.
“EPA is proud to lead the federal family’s efforts to expedite cleanup of legacy contamination on lands conveyed to tribal communities through the ANCSA settlement,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This has been a long time coming and we’re finally able to fund work to reduce the risks and impacts to Native communities. I am looking forward to working with the state, ANTHC and ANVCA to coordinate our efforts to inventory, verify, assess and cleanup the sites, starting this year.”
“It is long past time that the federal government take steps to address the environmental injustice committed when contaminated lands were conveyed to Alaska Native Corporations as settlement for their land claims under ANCSA,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I applaud the availability of award opportunities through the new program I worked to set up in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, and look forward to seeing EPA and its federal partners begin to step up and start the clean-up process on these ANCSA lands.”
Eligible tribal entities include Alaska Native Regional Corporations, Alaska Native Village Corporations, federally recognized tribes in Alaska, Alaska Native nonprofit organizations and associations, and inter-tribal consortia comprised of Alaskan tribal entities.
EPA expects to award three or more cooperative agreements for site assessments, and three or more cooperative agreements to begin cleanup of ANCSA properties contaminated at the time of conveyance.
Full program guidance is available online. The application deadline is June 23. EPA Region 10 anticipates making selections in July. More information about the assistance program is available on the ANCSA website.
ANCSA was enacted in 1971 to settle aboriginal claims to public lands through the conveyance of 46 million acres of land to Alaska Native regional and village corporations and the transfer of one billion dollars from the state and federal governments as compensation for remaining claims.
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