EPA announces $2.5 million to clean up contamination at three ANCSA communities

Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 12:22 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $2.5 million in funding for Indigenous communities in Alaska to clean up contamination.

Funding is being made available as part of a program to help communities covered by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.

This round of grants is being given to the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation in the Northeast, the Tyonek Native Corporation west of Anchorage and the Ounalashka Corporation on the Aleutian Islands.

A total of $20 million has been allocated for the effort from the congressional 2023 omnibus bill. It is designed to fulfill the promise made by ANCSA of giving Alaska Native communities the ability to utilize their land.

“This is significant because of what it represents going forward, which is a longstanding commitment to address a true environmental injustice, and it is an injustice that was perpetrated by our own federal government and lands at the feet of native Alaskans. It thwarts their ability to fulfill the promise of ANCSA,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.

This week, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan visited Alaska, accompanied by Murkowski.

The trip took Regan to various native villages, finally landing him at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks on Friday, September 1. There, he and Murkowski held a press conference discussing what they learned from their travels.

Murkowski says she hopes to announce new rounds of funding in the future and secure more government allocations going forward.

While none of the first-round funding is going to Interior Alaska, Regan spoke with representatives from the region while in-state.

“The strength and the resilience that I’ve seen from our Indigenous and tribal communities throughout the state has been truly inspiring. Despite the lack of resources, I’ve learned that so many native Alaskans have been able to band together to forge innovative and effective solutions to tackle their most challenging and pressing environmental concerns, and while they’ve shown unparalleled tenacity, we must do better from the local, the state, and federal levels to ensure that historically overburdened and underserved communities receive the support that they need and deserve,” said EPA Administrator Regan.

The Bureau of Land Management has compiled a map of known contaminated sites on ANCSA lands.