The Clean Water, Safe Drinking Water, and Clean Air Acts authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to treat eligible Indian tribes in the same manner as a state (referred to as TAS) for implementing and managing environmental programs on Indian lands. Some states are concerned that tribes receiving authority to manage these programs may set standards that exceed the state standards and hinder states' economic development. GAO was asked to report on the (1) extent to which EPA has followed its processes for reviewing and approving tribal applications for TAS and program authorization under the three acts, (2) programs EPA uses to fund tribal environmental activities and the amount of funds provided to tribes between fiscal years 2002 and 2004, and (3) types of disagreements between parties over EPA's approval of TAS status and program authorization and methods used to address these disagreements.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||To better facilitate the timely review of tribal requests for TAS status for program authorization and to increase the transparency of the process to tribes, the Administrator of EPA should develop a written strategy, including estimated time frames, for its tribal request review process and for providing periodic updates to the tribes on the status of their requests.|