- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — In addition to articles already covered by Native News Online, here is a roundup of other news released from Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country recently.
Senators Coordinate Effort to Tackle Native American Drinking Water Crisis
Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Alex Padilla, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Brian Schatz today announced they will hold coordinated hearings on water access challenges in America.
“Clean drinking water is a human right, and it is unacceptable that anyone in this great nation is struggling to access clean water. Yet, families and communities across America continue to fall between the cracks and face significant threats to safe, affordable, and reliable water supplies,” Wyden, Padilla and Schatz said in a joint statement. “As Committee and Subcommittee chairs with jurisdiction over water access, we are committed to addressing America’s drinking water crisis. By bringing together panels of experts who possess a comprehensive understanding of these challenges, we and the Congress at large will gain valuable insights, and hear recommendations, that can help overcome both short- and long-term water access challenges. Our shared goal is to emerge from these hearings with concrete and actionable solutions that can effectively address water access issues in the United States.”
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 27 at 2:30PM ET to examine access to clean, reliable water for Native communities as part of its work to uphold the federal trust responsibility. More information on the hearing can be found here.
Bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act Introduced
The bill has been endorsed by the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the National Bison Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Rep. Peltola Advocates for Changes to National Standards for NOAA Fisheries Management
On September 12th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) completed the public comment period for its notice of proposed rulemaking to update the National Standards of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The National Standards are principles that govern fisheries management decisions nationwide, including goals for allocation, bycatch, and fisheries-dependent communities. The Standards were last updated in 2016, prior to significant population crashes among key marine species in Alaska. Representative Peltola has worked since entering office to bring attention to the need to update the Standards to address scarcity in crucial species including salmon and crab.
“In Alaska, fishing is our way of life. It’s how we feed our families, keep roofs over our heads, and pass on our traditions through generations,” Rep.Peltola said. “The oceans and freshwater habitats are continually changing, now more than ever. King crab, snow crab, and Yukon River salmon fisheries collapsed last year, and in Norton Sound, crab pots are coming up filled with cod instead of crab. For fisheries management to succeed, the tools fisheries managers and councils use to make decisions must change and adapt. We need to overhaul our entire system to be pro-fish. That’s not just a slogan—it’s a mission statement, and it begins with the National Standards. While we figure out this piece of the puzzle."
As NOAA reviews the public comments and considers moving forward with the rulemaking process, Rep. Peltola’s office will continue to advocate for updated standards that prioritize a productive ocean for all user groups.
President Biden Amends Hoopa Valley Tribe Disaster Declaration
President Joe Biden on Thursday, September 21, 2023, made additional disaster assistance available to the Hoopa Valley Tribe by authorizing an increase in the level of federal funding for Public Assistance projects undertaken as a result of severe winter storms and mudslides during the period of February 14 to March 5, 2023.
Under the President’s major disaster declaration issued for the Hoopa Valley Tribe on April 25, 2023, federal funding was made available for Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation at 75 percent of the total eligible costs.
Under the President's order Thursday, the federal share for Public Assistance has been increased to 90 percent of the total eligible costs.
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