FEMA Releases Final Tribal Consultation Policy
On August 26, 2014, pursuant to Executive Order 13175 Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments and Presidential Memorandum Tribal Consultation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the final version of their tribal consultation policy. A copy of the final policy is attached, as is FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate’s Dear Tribal Letter which explains the differences between the draft policy and the final policy and introduces the recently appointed National Tribal Affairs Advisor. We reported on FEMA’s issuance of the draft policy in our General Memorandum 13-099 of November 1, 2013.
Summary of Changes. The main changes made by FEMA, at the request of tribes, were to clarify the titles, roles, responsibilities, and relationships of the different FEMA officials involved in the consultation process and to clarify the process by which tribes can initiate consultation or resolve disputes. Also, the definition of an important term “substantial direct effect” (one of the standards which FEMA uses to determine whether to initiate tribal consultation) was redefined from the draft policy:
… generally refers to an effect or impact on an Indian tribe(s), either beneficial or adverse, that is directly caused by the FEMA action and that is significant in size or amount when compared to the effect or impact on nontribal stakeholders.
To read in the final policy:
… generally refers to an effect on an Indian tribe(s) that is:
– Directly caused by a FEMA action
– Beneficial or adverse,
FEMA explains that this change was made to clarify that tribal consultation is to occur where there is a significant impact on tribe(s), regardless of the impact on other stakeholders.
Applicability of the Policy. FEMA explains that “this policy applies to FEMA actions commenced on or after the date of issuance. FEMA intends to review and update this policy regularly, as necessary, to reflect our ongoing engagement and collaboration with our tribal partners.”
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding FEMA’s final tribal consultation policy.