ABSTRACT The All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) through the Pueblo Office of Environmental Protection (POEP) implements and provides a variety of environmental programs and services to the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico. Specifically, the POEP Superfund Program investigates and evaluates potential hazardous waste sites within Pueblo lands. The POEP Superfund Program began in September 1991 when the 19 Pueblo Governors signed a Superfund Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region VI. The goal of the POEP Superfund Program is to determine those sites that are eligible for Superfund-financed remedial action by placing those sites on the National Priorities List (NPL), while including the Pueblo perspective. Because the 19 Pueblos are each unique, sovereign nations, several differences and gaps associated with the current Superfund law and EPA methodologies exist. Currently, the Superfund Hazard Ranking System (HRS) model does not account for Indian religious and ceremonial impacts from these sites. Due to their importance in Pueblo life, culturally significant plants, animals, ceremonial surface water use, and sacred areas should be considered as critical impacts when evaluating the various pathways of exposure of the HRS. Tribal environmental equality is an aspect that will be included into all environmental laws. AIPC and POEP are working to address this issue under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA).
KEYWORDS: cultural significance, sovereignty, regulatory reform
This paper is from the Proceedings of the HSRC/WERC Joint Conference on the Environment, May 1996, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.
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