Cooperating Agencies

Cooperating Agency Status

One of the ways to even the playing field between your organization or village and the mining company is to ask to be named a Cooperative Agency to the action being considered.  Cooperating agencies work with the lead agency to provide perspectives, opinions, and expertise in the development of an Environmental Impact Statment and Health Impact Assessment.  Becoming a cooperating agency can give tribes direct and early involvement in key decisions. These include the scope of the EIS or HIA, the nature of the alternatives considered, and the degree of public involvement. As a cooperating agency, tribes have the opportunity to both shape the process and educate the agency on the impact of a proposed project.

Part of becoming a cooperative agency is becoming an equal at the table.  This is a double edged sword.  Legitimately, it can be argued that Tribal concerns and ties to the land are above the federal government’s ties to the land, but regardless, you will be viewed as an equal.  The Village may be tasked to perform certain duties as a party to the agreement and these will be obligations that must be met.  Furthermore, as an equal, the other agencies at the table may not respect certain protocols such as interrupting when someone is speaking.

Another, less involved approach would be to request that the Village be seated as a consultant to the permitting process especially in respect to sacred sites, Cultural values and subsistence.At the very least, the Village should be sure that they are identified as a stakeholder in the permitting process, if the mine gets that far, and will be provided notice of actions and be consulted during the process.  This will allow you to comment on draft proposals, offer alternatives and set the stage for litigation if the need (hopefully not) arises due to damage to your interests.

Resources

(Content Derived from Alaska Community Action on Toxics)

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