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July 30, 2004
MEMORANDUM FOR FEDERAL AGENCY NEPA CONTACTS AND TRIBAL COORDINATORS
FROM: Associate Director for NEPA Oversight, Council on Environmental Quality
SUBJECT: Improving the NEPA Process Through Enhanced Tribal Capacity
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has established the Interagency Tribal NEPA Capacity Work Group (the Work Group) in its continuing efforts to make the NEPA process more effective, efficient and timely. The Work Group seeks to enhance the knowledge, understanding and skills of federal agencies and American Indian tribes, Alaska Native entities and Native Hawaiian organizations and thereby enable them to work together more effectively throughout the NEPA process.
Increasing stakeholder information sharing and cooperation improves the NEPA process. Federal agencies, American Indian tribes, Alaska Native entities and Native Hawaiian organizations can learn much from one another. Making information they have about proposed actions and their potential effects on resources and communities available early in the NEPA process can shorten the time needed to identify issues of concern, potential environmental consequences, and ways to avoid or otherwise mitigate potential problems.
Please distribute this memo with the mission statement and the long and short term goals to appropriate offices and personnel within your agency to make them aware of the Work Group and to solicit their continued cooperation. Your previous response to requests for information and materials for tribal capacity workshops is appreciated and that information will be available for your review later this year. 
The Work Group will periodically request your assistance for information and the review of informational and training materials that are developed. We look forward to working with you to improve the NEPA process.
Interagency Tribal NEPA Capacity Work Group
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) establishes policy, sets goals, and contains procedures to ensure that environmental information is made available to public officials and citizens during the federal agencies' decisionmaking process, before final decisions are made and actions are taken. NEPA establishes a process to inform decisionmaking and thereby promote agency decisions that achieve a balance between human activities and the environment that will be sustainable for generations to come. As Congress declared in enacting NEPA, "it is the continuing policy of the Federal government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans." The Interagency Tribal NEPA Capacity Work Group will focus on the opportunities available through the NEPA process to sustain the cultural heritage and cultural identity of American Indian tribes, Alaska Native entities, and Native Hawaiians.
The Interagency Tribal NEPA Capacity Work Group, working collaboratively with American Indian tribes, Alaska Native entities, and Native Hawaiians organizations, (herein after referred to as "Tribes") and others, will strive to enhance tribal capacity for more effective participation in NEPA analyses and processes to encourage more informed decisionmaking so as to promote the preservation of tribal cultural heritage and cultural identity. The Work Group will also encourage and support the efforts of Tribes to develop tribal-specific NEPA-like processes (TEPAs).
Long Term Goals
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) established a core group of federal agency representatives to work with formal and informal networks of Tribes, federal and state officials, and non-federal organizations to help agencies and federally recognized Tribes:
Short Term Goals