How the NRC Works with Native American Tribal Governments
March 2, 2011
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My office, the Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs, oversees NRC’s intergovernmental activities. When you hear the word, “intergovernmental,” you might think it refers to interactions with state or other federal agencies. We do that, but it’s only part of the story. We also have discussions and meetings with members of Native American tribal governments. We seek to inform Native American communities of the nature of NRC’s regulatory activities, and learn of tribal needs and concerns about our work.
The NRC routinely interacts with tribes on such issues as uranium milling and nuclear reactor licensing, nuclear waste storage and transportation of nuclear materials. The NRC is committed to its government-to-government relationships with tribes.
Over the past year, the NRC has developed a protocol to help the agency work with tribal governments, and to increase NRC’s awareness of tribal participation in the regulatory process. This has helped to educate NRC about Native American culture and historical relations between the federal government and the tribes. Our staff has enhanced its ability to work with tribal governments by taking courses in such areas as tribal consultation, environmental policy and historic preservation. We have also made efforts to increase general outreach to tribes and to respond to specific requests.
In addition, we maintain a working relationship with the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, DC. This group represents the needs and interests of all 565 federally recognized tribes.
Our staff is now working on regulations that would require Native American tribes to be notified of reactor fuel shipments that may be transported across tribal reservation lands. We’ve corresponded directly with all 565 tribes and asked for comments on the proposed regulation. Additional information about this rulemaking can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/by searching under Docket ID NRC-1999-0005.
NRC’s tribal outreach is part of a broader federal effort to communicate more closely with the tribes. In this way, we hope we are getting to know one another a bit better. If you’d like to know more about this activity, please contact Rich Turtil at Richard.Turtil@nrc.gov .
Senior Program Analyst (Nuclear Materials/Waste Management)