Tribal Policy Statement, 71136-71141 [2014-27325]

Download as PDF 71136 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices ADAMS Accession No./ Web link/Federal Register citation Document Tribal Protocol Manual: Guidance for NRC Staff, Revision 1. ........................................................................................... Tribal Protocol Manual: Guidance for NRC Staff — Comment Responses ....................................................................... Executive Order 13175, ‘‘Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,’’ November 9, 2000 ............. Presidential Memorandum for the Heads Executive Departments and Agencies, ‘‘Tribal Consultation,’’ November 5, 2009. SECY–09–0180, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Interaction with Native American Tribes .................................... SRM–M081211, Staff Requirements—Briefing on Uranium Recovery, 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Thursday, December 11, 2008, Commissioners’ Conference Room, One White Flint North, Rockville, Maryland (Open to Public Attendance). STAFF REQUIREMENTS—SECY–14–0006—TRIBAL CONSULTATION POLICY STATEMENT AND PROTOCOL .... Tribal Protocol Manual: Guidance for NRC Staff (October 2012) ...................................................................................... Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 3rd day of November 2014. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Laura A. Dudes, Director, Division of Material Safety, States, Tribal, and Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards. [FR Doc. 2014–27324 Filed 11–28–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590–01–P NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION [NRC–2012–0235] Tribal Policy Statement Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Proposed policy statement; request for comment. AGENCY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is making available for public comment the proposed Policy Statement, ‘‘NRC Tribal Policy Statement.’’ The proposed policy statement establishes principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective government-to-government interactions with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over which the Commission has jurisdiction. The NRC is committed to an open and collaborative regulatory environment in the development and implementation of activities that have Tribal implications and welcomes comments as a means of fostering meaningful consultation and coordination with Indian Tribes. DATES: Submit comments on the proposed Tribal Policy Statement by March 31, 2015. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only for comments received on or before this date. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: You may access information and submit comments related to this ADDRESSES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 document by any of the following methods (unless this document describes a different method for submitting comments on a specific subject): • Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID: NRC–2012–0235. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301–287–3442; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. • Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: 3WFN–06– 44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555– 0001. For additional direction on accessing information and submitting comments, see ‘‘Accessing Information and Submitting Comments’’ in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Ryan, telephone: 630–829– 9724, email: Michelle.Ryan@nrc.gov; or Haimanot Yilma, telephone: 301–415– 8029, email: Haimanot.Yilma@nrc.gov; both of the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments II. Background III. Discussion IV. Summary of Public Comments on the Proposed Policy Statement and NRC Staff Responses to the Comments V. Proposed Tribal Policy Statement I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments A. Accessing Information Please refer to Docket ID: NRC–2012– 0235 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information regarding PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ML14274A014 ML14297A280 65 FR 67249 74 FR 57881 ML092800263 ML090080206 ML14240A083 ML12261A423 this document. You may access publicly-available information related to this document by any of the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID: NRC–2012–0235. • NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC Library at: http://www.nrc.gov/readingrm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ‘‘ADAMS Public Documents’’ and then select ‘‘Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.’’ For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1–800–397–4209, 301–415–4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The ADAMS accession number for each document referenced in this document (if that document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is referenced. NRC’s PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public documents at the NRC’s PDR, Room O1–F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852. B. Submitting Comments Please include Docket ID: NRC–2012– 0235 in the subject line of your comment submission in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make your comment submission available to the public in this docket. The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact information that you do not want to be publicly disclosed in your comment submission. The NRC will post all comment submissions at http:// www.regulations.gov as well as enter the comment submissions into ADAMS. The NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove identifying or contact information. If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to include E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices identifying or contact information that they do not want to be publicly disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should state that the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove such information before making the comment submissions available to the public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES II. Background The purpose of this proposed Tribal Policy Statement is to establish principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective government-togovernment interactions with Indian Tribes and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over which the Commission has jurisdiction. The NRC licenses and regulates the Nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to protect public health and safety, common defense and security, and the environment under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (AEA) (42 U.S.C. 2011). Other statutory provisions, such as the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321), require Tribal consultation as part of the NRC’s evaluation of agency activities during licensing actions, rulemaking, or policy development. The NRC complies with statutory provisions that require Tribal consultation, and interacts with Tribal governments on a case-by-case basis. • In November of 2000, President Clinton issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13175, ‘‘Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,’’ (65 FR 67249). The Order established the legal principles below to guide agencies when forming and implementing policies with potential Tribal implications. • The United States has a unique legal relationship with Indian Tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, E.O.s, and court decisions. The Federal Government recognizes Indian Tribes as domestic dependent nations under its protection and has enacted statutes and promulgated regulations that establish and define a trust relationship with Indian Tribes. • The Federal Government has recognized the right of Indian Tribes to self-government with inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory and supports Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. The United States continues to work with Indian Tribes on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning Tribal self- VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 government, Tribal trust resources, and Indian Tribal treaty and other rights. E.O. 13175 states that ‘‘ ‘Policies that have tribal implications’ refers to regulations, legislative comments, or proposed legislation, and other policy statements or actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes.’’ As an independent regulatory agency, the NRC is exempt from the requirements of EO 13175. However, in January 2001, the Commission sent correspondence to the Office of Management and Budget stating that ‘‘in exercising its regulatory authority, this agency acts in a manner consistent with the fundamental precepts expressed in the Order [(EO 13175)].’’ To that end, the Commission has adopted agency practices that ensure consultation and cooperation with Indian Tribal governments fully consistent with both President Clinton’s 1994 guidance and with EO 13175’’ (ADAMS Accession No. ML010260297). In January of 2009, the Commission directed the staff to develop and implement an internal protocol for interaction with Native American Tribal Governments that would allow for custom tailored approaches to address both the NRC and Tribal interests on a case-by-case basis in a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) for the December 2008 ‘‘Briefing on Uranium Recovery,’’ SRM–M081211 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090080206). The Commission also tasked the staff with preparing an assessment of the policies that other Federal agencies have developed for interactions with Tribal governments. The staff responded to this Commission direction in SECY–09– 0180, ‘‘U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Interaction with Native American Tribes’’ (ADAMS Accession No. ML092920384). In this document, the staff provided a protocol for NRC Tribal interaction, assessed other Federal agency Tribal policies, and examined the effectiveness of the NRC’s case-by-case approach to Tribal interaction. The staff also developed the NRC Tribal Protocol Manual as an internal protocol for interacting with Tribal governments (ADAMS Accession No. ML092990559). At that time, the staff concluded that formalizing the NRC’s practices would not enhance its interactions with Tribal governments. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71137 Current NRC Practices for Interactions With Tribes Numerous Federally recognized Tribes have an interest in public health and safety and environmental protection associated with NRC regulatory activities that include uranium recovery and nuclear power plant licensing, and radioactive material transportation and disposal, and spent fuel storage. The NRC exercises its trust relationship or fiduciary duty in the context of its authorizing statutes, including the AEA, and implements its responsibilities through assuring that Tribal members receive the same protections under regulations that are available to other persons. Under the NRC’s case-by-case approach to Tribal interaction, the NRC or Tribal governments can request consultation on regulatory activities that have substantial direct Tribal implications. The NRC’s policy is to consult on a government-to-government basis with Tribal governments consistent with its obligations under law and regulation 1 at the earliest stage possible in NRC regulatory actions with Tribal implications. III. Discussion Within the context of this discussion, the following definitions will apply unless otherwise indicated: Consultation refers to meaningful and timely discussion with Tribal governments on NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The Consultation process may include, but is not limited to, providing for mutually agreed protocols, timely communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration to provide opportunities for appropriate Tribal officials or representatives to meet with NRC management or staff. Indian Tribe means any American Indian or Alaska Native Tribe, Band, Nation, Pueblo or other organized group or community that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian Tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. 479a). 1 The NRC’s proposed policy statement is intended only to improve the internal management of the Commission, and is not intended to, and does not, grant, expand, create, or diminish any rights, benefits, or trust responsibilities, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity in any cause of action by any party against the United States, the Commission, or any person. This Tribal Policy Statement does not alter, amend, repeal, interpret, or modify Tribal sovereignty, any treaty rights of any Indian Tribes, or preempt, modify, or limit the exercise of such rights. Nothing herein shall be interpreted as amending or changing the Commission’s regulations. E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 71138 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices Regulatory Actions with Tribal Implications refers to regulations, legislative comments or proposed legislation, and other policy statements or actions including licensing and permitting that have substantial direct effect on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes. Tribal Official means an elected, appointed, or designated official or employee of an Indian Tribe or authorized intertribal organization. Trust Responsibility refers to a fiduciary obligation on the part of the United States to protect Tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources, as well as a duty to carry out the mandates of Federal law with respect to Indian Tribes. In several cases discussing the trust responsibility, the Supreme Court has used language suggesting that it entails legal duties, moral obligations, and the fulfillment of understandings and expectations that have arisen over the entire course of the relationship between the United States and the Federally recognized Tribes. The NRC exercises its fiduciary duty in the context of its authorizing statutes including AEA, the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, as amended, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1985, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978, as amended, and the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as amended, and implements its responsibility by assuring that Tribal members receive the same protections under its implementing regulations that are available to other persons. In May 2012, the Commission issued SRM–COMWDM–12–0001, ‘‘Tribal Consultation Policy Statement and Protocol’’ (ADAMS Accession No. ML121430233), directing the NRC staff to provide a proposed Policy Statement and protocol on consultation with Tribal governments. The Commission also directed staff to do the following: (1) Use the existing, ‘‘Tribal Protocol Manual: Guidance for NRC Employees,’’ and the staff’s ongoing efforts outlined in SECY–09–0180 as a starting point; (2) seek input on how to improve the existing manual from the Tribes and the public; (3) ensure that the policy statement clearly articulates that the NRC’s actions must be in accordance with its governing statutes and regulations; (4) ensure that the policy statement and protocol respect and reflect sensitivity between Indian Tribes who are Federally recognized and those VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 who are not; (5) ensure that the policy statement and protocol indicate that the NRC will outreach to State-recognized Tribes on a case-by-case basis; (6) explore additional opportunities for State-recognized Tribes to participate in the NRC regulatory process; and (7) make the protocol prominently available on the NRC’s public Web site. The Commission also specified that the proposed policy statement should serve as a high-level foundation for the protocol and should echo the language and spirit of the relevant Presidential Memoranda and EOs. On October 12, 2012 (77 FR 62269), the NRC solicited public comment on its existing revised Tribal Protocol Manual and requested suggestions for the development of a proposed Policy Statement that will establish principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective government-to-government interactions with Indian Tribes and to encourage and facilitate involvement by Indian Tribes in the areas over which the Commission has jurisdiction. The public comment period was open for 180 days; and the NRC received six comment letters from two Tribal governments, two mining associations, one inter-Tribal organization, and a Tribal college. The staff has developed a proposed Tribal Policy Statement and revised the NRC Tribal Protocol Manual considering those comments. The Commission is currently seeking public comments on the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. The NRC is also seeking public comment on the Tribal Protocol Manual in a separate notice published concurrently in this issue of the Federal Register. In 2014, the NRC intends to publish the revised Tribal Protocol Manual along with the public comments received on the prior version of that document. Once the Commission approves the final Tribal Policy Statement, the NRC will make conforming changes to the Tribal Protocol Manual, as appropriate, and reissue the Manual concurrently with the final Policy Statement. The summary of public comments to the proposed Tribal Policy Statement and the NRC responses to those comments are provided below. IV. Summary of Public Comments and Responses to Comments The NRC solicited suggestions regarding the development of the proposed Tribal Policy Statement by posing the following questions: (1) How can the NRC strengthen government-togovernment relationships with Native American Tribes? (2) What practices have the NRC or other Federal agencies PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 employed that have been effective in identifying Tribal interests and resolving Tribal concerns about proposed agency actions? (3) Are there specific Tribal Policy Statements from other Federal agencies that could serve as a starting point for the NRC’s efforts? (4) What unique Tribal issues should the NRC be aware of as a nonlandholding, regulatory agency that issues licenses under the Atomic Energy Act? Comments and responses related to these questions are listed below. Comments submitted that related to the Tribal Protocol Manual, but were useful to the development of the proposed Tribal Policy Statement, were also considered. 1. How can NRC strengthen governmentto-government relationships with Native American Tribes? Comment 1.1. Commenters suggested that the NRC may improve its government-to-government relationship with Tribes by developing a Tribal policy statement and engaging in regular dialogue with Tribes. Response 1.1. The NRC agrees with this comment. Current staff efforts have centered on revising the NRC’s Tribal Protocol Manual and developing an agency-wide Tribal Policy Statement for Commission approval. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement recognizes the need for the NRC to seek out opportunities to engage Tribal officials regarding specific regulatory actions. The Policy Statement also recognizes that general outreach may be accomplished through NRC participation in Tribal meetings that are held by the NRC’s governmental partners and through other fora. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement also underscores the NRC’s commitment to its government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes and reinforces the commitment through outreach and consultation. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement further underscores the NRC’s commitment to its relationship with Indian Tribes by identifying NRC management and staff members responsible for overseeing Tribal consultation efforts. Comment 1.2. Multiple comments centered on the importance of recognizing Tribal sovereignty and the unique legal status of Tribes as well as the Federal Trust relationship during the NRC’s interaction with Tribes. Commenters noted that Tribes retain inherent sovereignty and should be considered to be governmental partners rather than ‘‘stakeholders.’’ Commenters suggested that the NRC should recognize that Tribal governments have E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices primary authority and responsibility for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens and should be part of the government-to-government consultation process with respect to agency actions that may impact the citizens or lands of Indian Tribes. Response 1.2. The NRC agrees with this comment. The Commission recognizes Tribal sovereignty and demonstrates a commitment to government-to-government relations with Federally recognized Tribes, upholding the spirit of EO 13175. Congress authorized the Federal government to regulate specified radioactive materials to protect public health and safety and common defense and security in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. The NRC has regulatory authority over these radioactive materials in areas of exclusive Federal jurisdiction including Tribal reservations. However, the NRC exercises this regulatory authority in a manner consistent with the fundamental precepts expressed in EO 13175 and supports establishing regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. Comment 1.3. One comment suggested that the NRC should formally define the Federal Trust responsibility in detail. Response 1.3. The NRC agrees with this comment with respect to defining the NRC’s Federal Trust responsibility towards Indian Tribes. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement reflects the NRC’s recognition of the Federal Trust relationship and the NRC’s commitment to a government-to-government relationship with Federally recognized Tribes with respect to agency actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The NRC exercises its fiduciary duty in the context of its authorizing statutes, including the AEA, and implements any fiduciary responsibility by assuring that Tribal members receive the same protections under regulations implemented by the NRC that are available to other persons. The NRC will seek to consult with Indian Tribes on agency actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. Related staff guidance can be found in NRC Management Directive 5.1, ‘‘Intergovernmental Consultation,’’ which ensures that major interagency agreements, major organizational changes, significant rules and regulations, statements of policy, guides and standards, and major studies developed by the NRC that significantly VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 impact Indian Tribes are prepared with appropriate involvement and meaningful consultation with Indian Tribes at the earliest possible stage (ADAMS Accession No. ML041770442). Comment 1.4. One comment noted that the NRC should provide refreshments during meetings with Tribes. Response 1.4. The NRC recognizes that providing refreshments during gatherings or meetings may be customary in some Native American cultures. Under Federal law, however, food and refreshments are generally considered to be personal expenses that cannot be purchased using Federal funds. The Commission must comply with Federal law pertaining to the provision of food or refreshments at meetings. 2. What practices have the NRC or other Federal agencies employed that have been effective in identifying Tribal interests and resolving Tribal concerns about proposed agency actions? Comment 2.1. One commenter suggested that the NRC should utilize other Federal agencies in developing shared information tools to better communicate with Indian Tribes. Response 2.1. The NRC agrees with this comment and works closely with other Federal agencies and interagency working groups on Tribal initiatives. The NRC routinely collaborates with other Federal agencies regarding Tribal consultations and has a related Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Additionally, NRC staff examined Tribal policies in place at other Federal agencies during the development of the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement recognizes the importance of coordinating our Tribal consultation efforts with other Federal partners. 3. Are there specific Tribal Policy Statements in other Federal agencies that could serve as a starting point for the NRC’s efforts? No commenters identified specific Federal agency policy statements that should serve as a starting point for the NRC Policy Statement. However, the NRC staff examined 15 other Federal agencies’ Tribal policies and used them as a basis for developing the proposed NRC Tribal Policy Statement. 4. What unique Tribal issues should the NRC be aware of as a non-landholding, regulatory agency that issues licenses under the Atomic Energy Act? Comment 4.1. Commenters submitted suggestions related to unique Tribal PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71139 issues that the NRC should consider during the development of the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. Commenters indicated that the NRC should recognize the distinction between Federally recognized and non-Federally recognized State Tribes and noted that the NRC should consider State Tribes and other means for identifying Tribes that ratified treaties. Additionally, commenters noted that the NRC should consider the dynamics of the State and Tribal relationship, including the application of State regulations and policies to Tribal communities. Response 4.1. The NRC agrees with this comment in part, acknowledges the unique relationship that exists between the Federal government and Federally recognized Tribes, and recognizes that this relationship is independent of any State recognition of Tribal sovereignty. The proposed Policy Statement identifies the distinction between Federal and State-recognized Tribes. This distinction is also reflected in the revised NRC Tribal Protocol Manual. However, the NRC cannot confer Federal recognition on non-Federally recognized State Tribes and defers to the Department of the Interior for such actions. With regard to State regulation and policies, typically land within the boundaries of Federally recognized Indian Tribe’s Reservations is an area of exclusive Federal jurisdiction for NRC regulatory purposes. Comment 4.2. Several comments stated the need for the NRC to understand the distinction between Tribal and Non-Tribal cultures, especially as they relate to energy development in Indian Country. Commenters suggested that the NRC should recognize that Tribal cultures vary from Tribe to Tribe and that some may place more emphasis than others on natural resources. Comments also suggested that the NRC should account for differences in culture related to the decision-making process on energy development issues, allowing for flexibility in scheduling and input from members of Indian Tribes. Commenters noted that the NRC should not only recognize Tribal laws and spiritual beliefs pertaining to the environment and natural resources but should also include discussions of risk assessment. Commenters suggested that the NRC should respect Tribal moratoriums and explicit concerns related to natural resource extraction on reservations or lands nearby. Commenters also suggested that the NRC should work with other local agencies and institutions to gain a better understanding of the complexities and uniqueness of each Indian Tribe. E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 71140 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices Response 4.2. The NRC agrees with this comment and acknowledges that significant cultural differences may exist between Tribal and non-Tribal cultures and between the different Tribal cultures. This is reflected in staff guidance provided in the Tribal Protocol Manual, which identifies examples of cultural differences between Tribal and non-Tribal cultures and considerations for the NRC staff, including a recommendation to research Tribal history and current Tribal issues and concerns. The NRC recognizes the importance that some Indian Tribes may place on natural resources. This is reinforced in the proposed Policy Statement, which notes that the NRC will engage in consultation with Indian Tribes on NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The NRC recognizes that there may be differences in how the NRC staff and Tribes approach time and schedules during the decision-making process. The revised Tribal Protocol Manual has been updated to better reflect potential cultural differences with respect to agenda planning and scheduling. The NRC recognizes that Tribal elders and others knowledgeable about religious and cultural traditions can play an important role in the Tribal community during the decision-making process related to energy development and other important decisions. Chapter 2 of the Tribal Protocol Manual recognizes, ‘‘Tribal sovereignty includes the Tribe’s right to reach decisions and conduct meetings however they wish,’’ and notes, ‘‘Elders are highly respected in Tribal communities, whether or not they hold an official position.’’ When the NRC engages in government-togovernment consultations, it does so with designated representatives of the Tribal government, but the NRC’s regulatory process allows additional opportunities for members of the Tribal community at large, along with other members of the public, to contribute comments and attend meetings. The NRC recognizes the Tribal views of natural resources and land impact decision-making related to energy development. Chapter 3 of the revised Tribal Protocol Manual notes that, ‘‘Some Native Americans believe that all living things are interconnected and that the spiritual and natural worlds are one. Because of this, perceived threats to their environment may be viewed as direct threats to their health, culture, and spiritual well-being.’’ The Manual encourages the NRC staff to practice open communications, adaptability, and open-mindedness during interactions VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 with Tribal members, including during risk assessment activities. With regard to Tribal moratoriums or concerns related to natural resource extraction, the NRC respects Tribal sovereignty and the Tribe’s right to control the lands that are within their regulatory jurisdiction. The NRC licensees must obtain necessary permits or licenses from Federal, State, local or Tribal governments, as applicable, before operating under a NRC license. It is the NRC’s practice to work closely with the Tribes, other Federal agencies and interagency working groups on Tribal initiatives to gain knowledge of Tribal cultures, beliefs, and environmental concerns. V. Proposed Tribal Policy Statement This section includes the proposed language in its entirety for the proposed Tribal Policy Statement, as follows. The purpose of this proposed Tribal Policy Statement is to set forth principles to be followed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ensure effective government-to-government interactions with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over which the NRC has jurisdiction. It seeks to provide agencywide principles to achieve consistency but also encourage custom-tailored approaches to consultation and coordination that reflect the circumstances of each situation and the preference of each Tribal government. It is the NRC’s expectation that all program and regional office consultation and coordination practices will be consistent and adhere to the Tribal Policy Statement. This Tribal Policy Statement is based on the United States Constitution, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders (EOs), judicial decisions, and the unique relationship between Indian Tribes and the Federal government.2 The following principles shall guide the NRC’s interaction with Indian Tribes: 2 This Tribal Policy Statement is intended only to improve the internal management of the Commission, and is not intended to, and does not, grant, expand, create, or diminish any rights, benefits, or trust responsibilities, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity in any cause of action by any party against the United States, the Commission, or any person. This Tribal Policy Statement does not alter, amend, repeal, interpret, or modify Tribal sovereignty, any treaty rights of any Indian Tribes, or preempt, modify, or limit the exercise of such rights. Nothing herein shall be interpreted as amending or changing the Commission’s regulations. PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1. The NRC Recognizes the Federal Trust Relationship and Will Uphold Its Trust Relationship With Indian Tribes As an independent agency of the Federal government, the NRC shares the unique trust relationship with, and responsibility to, Indian Tribes. At the same time, the NRC’s actions must be in accordance with its authorizing statutes and regulations. The NRC shall respect Indian Tribal self-government and sovereignty, will honor Tribal rights, and meet responsibilities that arise from the unique relationship between the Federal government and Indian Tribal governments. 2. The NRC Recognizes and Is Committed to a Government-toGovernment Relationship With Indian Tribes The NRC recognizes the right of each Indian Tribe to self-governance and supports Tribal sovereignty and selfdetermination. The NRC recognizes Tribal governments as dependent domestic sovereign nations, independent from State governments, with separate and distinct authorities. 3. The NRC Will Conduct Outreach to Indian Tribes The NRC will consult and coordinate with Indian Tribes, as appropriate, related to its regulatory actions with Tribal implications and will seek additional opportunities for general outreach. The NRC will participate in national and regional Tribal conferences and summits hosted by Federal agencies and Tribal organizations, and will seek Tribal representation in NRC meetings and advisory committees concerning NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. 4. The NRC Will Engage in Timely Consultation The NRC will provide timely notice to, and consult with, Tribal governments on NRC’s regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. Tribal officials may request that the NRC engage in government-togovernment consultation with them on matters that have not been identified by the NRC to have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The NRC will make efforts to honor such requests, taking into consideration the nature of the activity at issue, past consultation efforts, available resources, timing issues, and other relevant factors. The NRC will establish early communications and begin consultation at the earliest permissible stage, as appropriate. The NRC will consult in E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 230 / Monday, December 1, 2014 / Notices good faith throughout the agency decision-making process and develop and maintain effective communication, coordination, and cooperation with Indian Tribes. The NRC representative for consultations with Tribal officials or representatives will be of an appropriate rank of NRC representatives and level of interaction commensurate with the circumstances. The appropriate level of interaction will be determined by past and current practices, continuing dialogue between NRC and Tribal governments, and program office consultation procedures. 5. The NRC Will Coordinate With Other Federal Agencies When the Commission’s action involves other Federal agencies, the NRC will perform its Tribal consultation jointly with other Federal agencies, as appropriate. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 6. The NRC Will Encourage Participation by State-Recognized Tribes The NRC recognizes the distinction between Indian Tribes who are Federally recognized and those who are not. The NRC will outreach to States to identify the appropriate Staterecognized Tribes to invite to participate in its regulatory process, including opportunities related to rulemaking, hearings, licensing, decommissioning, and enforcement. Designated Official and Tribal Liaisons The Deputy Executive Director for Materials, Waste, Research, State, Tribal and Compliance Programs serves as the NRC’s designated official for Tribal consultations.3 The designated official shall ensure that agency program personnel have considered the Tribal implications related to their responsibilities within the NRC’s scope of jurisdiction and shall facilitate meaningful and timely consultation and coordination concerning the development, administration, and enforcement of NRC’s regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The designated official shall be supported by staff who have functional responsibility to serve as intergovernmental liaisons to Indian Tribes, under NRC Management Directive 5.1. These NRC Tribal liaisons 3 In 2006, the Commission created the position of Deputy Executive Director for Materials, Waste, Research, State, Tribal and Compliance Programs (SECY–06–0125, ‘‘Proposed Reorganization of the Offices of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards and State and Tribal Programs’’ (ADAMS Accession No. ML061950452)). The position includes different responsibilities, including that of the Commission’s designated official for Tribal consultations. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:08 Nov 28, 2014 Jkt 235001 will facilitate government-togovernment consultation by serving as the agency’s primary points of contact for Indian Tribes, coordinating with the appropriate office or personnel regarding programmatic inquiries, and facilitating the appropriate level of communication and exchange of information between Tribal officials and NRC staff. The Tribal liaisons shall also educate NRC staff about Tribal issues including cultural sensitivity and the Federal Trust Relationship. The designated official shall have the authority to delegate tasks to NRC Tribal liaisons as he/she deems fit. VI. Procedural Requirements Paperwork Reduction Act Statement This Policy Statement does not contain new or amended information collection requirements and, therefore, is not subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Public Protection Notification The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a request protocol for information or an information collection requirement unless the requesting document displays a currently valid OMB control number. Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 10th day of November, 2014. For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Rochelle C. Bavol, Acting, Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2014–27325 Filed 11–28–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590–01–P OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY Microsatellite Technologies for Civil Earth Observations Notice of Request for Information (RFI). ACTION: The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit input from interested parties on: (1) The current and near-term state of microsatellite technologies, and (2) whether microsatellite systems will be capable of meeting current and future civil Earth-observing needs. Public input provided in response to this RFI will inform the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as to the state of technologies associated with microsatellites to meet the Nation’s civil Earth observational requirements. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71141 Responses must be received by 30 days from publication date to be considered. DATES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods: • Downloadable form/email: To aid in information collection and analysis, OSTP encourages responders to fill out the downloadable form located at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/ default/files/microsites/ostp/microsat_ rfi_final.pdf and email that form, as an attachment, to EarthObsStudy@ OSTP.gov. Please include ‘‘Microsatellite Technologies for Civil Earth Observations’’ in the subject line of the message. • Fax: (202) 456–6071. • Mail: Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1650 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20504. Information submitted by postal mail should allow ample time for processing. Response to this RFI is voluntary. Respondents need not respond to each section of the RFI; however, they should clearly identify those sections to which they are responding by listing the corresponding number for each point listed below. Respondents must mark their responses as ‘‘Business Confidential’’ if responses contain information that is business proprietary, or commercial confidential information. OSTP will protect such information consistent with applicable law. Please note that the U.S. Government will not pay for response preparation, or for the use of any information contained in the response. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy Stryker, 202–419–3471, tstryker@ostp.eop.gov, OSTP. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ADDRESSES: Background In recent decades, the United States’ Earth-observing capacity has grown in scale and complexity, with multiple Federal agencies collecting information about the state of the Earth system. Earth observation systems consist of sensing elements that directly or indirectly collect observations of the Earth, measure environmental parameters, or survey biological or other Earth resources (such as land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans). The platforms carrying these sensing elements may be mobile or fixed, and are space-based, airborne, terrestrial, freshwater, or marine-based. Space-based observation systems have been used for decades to collect critical information used by the civil Earth observation community. The high vantage point afforded by Earth orbit provides the opportunity to conduct E:\FR\FM\01DEN1.SGM 01DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 230 (Monday, December 1, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71136-71141]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-27325]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2012-0235]


Tribal Policy Statement

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Proposed policy statement; request for comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is making 
available for public comment the proposed Policy Statement, ``NRC 
Tribal Policy Statement.'' The proposed policy statement establishes 
principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective government-to-
government interactions with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, 
and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over 
which the Commission has jurisdiction. The NRC is committed to an open 
and collaborative regulatory environment in the development and 
implementation of activities that have Tribal implications and welcomes 
comments as a means of fostering meaningful consultation and 
coordination with Indian Tribes.

DATES: Submit comments on the proposed Tribal Policy Statement by March 
31, 2015. Comments received after this date will be considered if it is 
practical to do so, but the NRC is able to assure consideration only 
for comments received on or before this date.

ADDRESSES: You may access information and submit comments related to 
this document by any of the following methods (unless this document 
describes a different method for submitting comments on a specific 
subject):
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID: NRC-2012-0235. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3442; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section 
of this document.
     Mail comments to: Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, 
Announcements, and Directives Branch, Office of Administration, Mail 
Stop: 3WFN-06-44M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001.
    For additional direction on accessing information and submitting 
comments, see ``Accessing Information and Submitting Comments'' in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Ryan, telephone: 630-829-
9724, email: Michelle.Ryan@nrc.gov; or Haimanot Yilma, telephone: 301-
415-8029, email: Haimanot.Yilma@nrc.gov; both of the Office of Nuclear 
Material Safety and Safeguards, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments
II. Background
III. Discussion
IV. Summary of Public Comments on the Proposed Policy Statement and 
NRC Staff Responses to the Comments
V. Proposed Tribal Policy Statement

I. Accessing Information and Submitting Comments

A. Accessing Information

    Please refer to Docket ID: NRC-2012-0235 when contacting the NRC 
about the availability of information regarding this document. You may 
access publicly-available information related to this document by any 
of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID: NRC-2012-0235.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may access publicly available documents online in the NRC 
Library at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the 
search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and then select ``Begin Web-
based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's 
Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-
4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The ADAMS accession number 
for each document referenced in this document (if that document is 
available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is 
referenced. NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

B. Submitting Comments

    Please include Docket ID: NRC-2012-0235 in the subject line of your 
comment submission in order to ensure that the NRC is able to make your 
comment submission available to the public in this docket.
    The NRC cautions you not to include identifying or contact 
information that you do not want to be publicly disclosed in your 
comment submission. The NRC will post all comment submissions at http://www.regulations.gov as well as enter the comment submissions into 
ADAMS. The NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove 
identifying or contact information.
    If you are requesting or aggregating comments from other persons 
for submission to the NRC, then you should inform those persons not to 
include

[[Page 71137]]

identifying or contact information that they do not want to be publicly 
disclosed in their comment submission. Your request should state that 
the NRC does not routinely edit comment submissions to remove such 
information before making the comment submissions available to the 
public or entering the comment submissions into ADAMS.

II. Background

    The purpose of this proposed Tribal Policy Statement is to 
establish principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective 
government-to-government interactions with Indian Tribes and to 
encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement in the areas over which the 
Commission has jurisdiction. The NRC licenses and regulates the 
Nation's civilian use of radioactive materials to protect public health 
and safety, common defense and security, and the environment under the 
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (AEA) (42 U.S.C. 2011). Other 
statutory provisions, such as the National Historic Preservation Act 
(NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321), require Tribal consultation as part of the NRC's 
evaluation of agency activities during licensing actions, rulemaking, 
or policy development. The NRC complies with statutory provisions that 
require Tribal consultation, and interacts with Tribal governments on a 
case-by-case basis.
     In November of 2000, President Clinton issued Executive 
Order (E.O.) 13175, ``Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments,'' (65 FR 67249). The Order established the legal 
principles below to guide agencies when forming and implementing 
policies with potential Tribal implications.
     The United States has a unique legal relationship with 
Indian Tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the 
United States, treaties, statutes, E.O.s, and court decisions. The 
Federal Government recognizes Indian Tribes as domestic dependent 
nations under its protection and has enacted statutes and promulgated 
regulations that establish and define a trust relationship with Indian 
Tribes.
     The Federal Government has recognized the right of Indian 
Tribes to self-government with inherent sovereign powers over their 
members and territory and supports Tribal sovereignty and self-
determination. The United States continues to work with Indian Tribes 
on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning Tribal 
self-government, Tribal trust resources, and Indian Tribal treaty and 
other rights.
    E.O. 13175 states that `` `Policies that have tribal implications' 
refers to regulations, legislative comments, or proposed legislation, 
and other policy statements or actions that have substantial direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the 
Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian 
Tribes.''
    As an independent regulatory agency, the NRC is exempt from the 
requirements of EO 13175. However, in January 2001, the Commission sent 
correspondence to the Office of Management and Budget stating that ``in 
exercising its regulatory authority, this agency acts in a manner 
consistent with the fundamental precepts expressed in the Order [(EO 
13175)].'' To that end, the Commission has adopted agency practices 
that ensure consultation and cooperation with Indian Tribal governments 
fully consistent with both President Clinton's 1994 guidance and with 
EO 13175'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML010260297).
    In January of 2009, the Commission directed the staff to develop 
and implement an internal protocol for interaction with Native American 
Tribal Governments that would allow for custom tailored approaches to 
address both the NRC and Tribal interests on a case-by-case basis in a 
Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) for the December 2008 ``Briefing on 
Uranium Recovery,'' SRM-M081211 (ADAMS Accession No. ML090080206). The 
Commission also tasked the staff with preparing an assessment of the 
policies that other Federal agencies have developed for interactions 
with Tribal governments. The staff responded to this Commission 
direction in SECY-09-0180, ``U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
Interaction with Native American Tribes'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML092920384). In this document, the staff provided a protocol for NRC 
Tribal interaction, assessed other Federal agency Tribal policies, and 
examined the effectiveness of the NRC's case-by-case approach to Tribal 
interaction. The staff also developed the NRC Tribal Protocol Manual as 
an internal protocol for interacting with Tribal governments (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML092990559). At that time, the staff concluded that 
formalizing the NRC's practices would not enhance its interactions with 
Tribal governments.

Current NRC Practices for Interactions With Tribes

    Numerous Federally recognized Tribes have an interest in public 
health and safety and environmental protection associated with NRC 
regulatory activities that include uranium recovery and nuclear power 
plant licensing, and radioactive material transportation and disposal, 
and spent fuel storage. The NRC exercises its trust relationship or 
fiduciary duty in the context of its authorizing statutes, including 
the AEA, and implements its responsibilities through assuring that 
Tribal members receive the same protections under regulations that are 
available to other persons. Under the NRC's case-by-case approach to 
Tribal interaction, the NRC or Tribal governments can request 
consultation on regulatory activities that have substantial direct 
Tribal implications. The NRC's policy is to consult on a government-to-
government basis with Tribal governments consistent with its 
obligations under law and regulation \1\ at the earliest stage possible 
in NRC regulatory actions with Tribal implications.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The NRC's proposed policy statement is intended only to 
improve the internal management of the Commission, and is not 
intended to, and does not, grant, expand, create, or diminish any 
rights, benefits, or trust responsibilities, substantive or 
procedural, enforceable at law or in equity in any cause of action 
by any party against the United States, the Commission, or any 
person. This Tribal Policy Statement does not alter, amend, repeal, 
interpret, or modify Tribal sovereignty, any treaty rights of any 
Indian Tribes, or preempt, modify, or limit the exercise of such 
rights. Nothing herein shall be interpreted as amending or changing 
the Commission's regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Discussion

    Within the context of this discussion, the following definitions 
will apply unless otherwise indicated:
    Consultation refers to meaningful and timely discussion with Tribal 
governments on NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The Consultation process may 
include, but is not limited to, providing for mutually agreed 
protocols, timely communication, coordination, cooperation, and 
collaboration to provide opportunities for appropriate Tribal officials 
or representatives to meet with NRC management or staff.
    Indian Tribe means any American Indian or Alaska Native Tribe, 
Band, Nation, Pueblo or other organized group or community that the 
Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian Tribe 
pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (25 
U.S.C. 479a).

[[Page 71138]]

    Regulatory Actions with Tribal Implications refers to regulations, 
legislative comments or proposed legislation, and other policy 
statements or actions including licensing and permitting that have 
substantial direct effect on one or more Indian Tribes, on the 
relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on 
the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal 
Government and Indian Tribes.
    Tribal Official means an elected, appointed, or designated official 
or employee of an Indian Tribe or authorized intertribal organization.
    Trust Responsibility refers to a fiduciary obligation on the part 
of the United States to protect Tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, 
and resources, as well as a duty to carry out the mandates of Federal 
law with respect to Indian Tribes. In several cases discussing the 
trust responsibility, the Supreme Court has used language suggesting 
that it entails legal duties, moral obligations, and the fulfillment of 
understandings and expectations that have arisen over the entire course 
of the relationship between the United States and the Federally 
recognized Tribes. The NRC exercises its fiduciary duty in the context 
of its authorizing statutes including AEA, the Energy Reorganization 
Act of 1974, as amended, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as 
amended, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1985, the 
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978, as amended, and 
the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as amended, and implements its 
responsibility by assuring that Tribal members receive the same 
protections under its implementing regulations that are available to 
other persons.
    In May 2012, the Commission issued SRM-COMWDM-12-0001, ``Tribal 
Consultation Policy Statement and Protocol'' (ADAMS Accession No. 
ML121430233), directing the NRC staff to provide a proposed Policy 
Statement and protocol on consultation with Tribal governments. The 
Commission also directed staff to do the following: (1) Use the 
existing, ``Tribal Protocol Manual: Guidance for NRC Employees,'' and 
the staff's ongoing efforts outlined in SECY-09-0180 as a starting 
point; (2) seek input on how to improve the existing manual from the 
Tribes and the public; (3) ensure that the policy statement clearly 
articulates that the NRC's actions must be in accordance with its 
governing statutes and regulations; (4) ensure that the policy 
statement and protocol respect and reflect sensitivity between Indian 
Tribes who are Federally recognized and those who are not; (5) ensure 
that the policy statement and protocol indicate that the NRC will 
outreach to State-recognized Tribes on a case-by-case basis; (6) 
explore additional opportunities for State-recognized Tribes to 
participate in the NRC regulatory process; and (7) make the protocol 
prominently available on the NRC's public Web site. The Commission also 
specified that the proposed policy statement should serve as a high-
level foundation for the protocol and should echo the language and 
spirit of the relevant Presidential Memoranda and EOs.
    On October 12, 2012 (77 FR 62269), the NRC solicited public comment 
on its existing revised Tribal Protocol Manual and requested 
suggestions for the development of a proposed Policy Statement that 
will establish principles to be followed by the NRC to ensure effective 
government-to-government interactions with Indian Tribes and to 
encourage and facilitate involvement by Indian Tribes in the areas over 
which the Commission has jurisdiction. The public comment period was 
open for 180 days; and the NRC received six comment letters from two 
Tribal governments, two mining associations, one inter-Tribal 
organization, and a Tribal college. The staff has developed a proposed 
Tribal Policy Statement and revised the NRC Tribal Protocol Manual 
considering those comments. The Commission is currently seeking public 
comments on the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. The NRC is also 
seeking public comment on the Tribal Protocol Manual in a separate 
notice published concurrently in this issue of the Federal Register.
    In 2014, the NRC intends to publish the revised Tribal Protocol 
Manual along with the public comments received on the prior version of 
that document. Once the Commission approves the final Tribal Policy 
Statement, the NRC will make conforming changes to the Tribal Protocol 
Manual, as appropriate, and reissue the Manual concurrently with the 
final Policy Statement. The summary of public comments to the proposed 
Tribal Policy Statement and the NRC responses to those comments are 
provided below.

IV. Summary of Public Comments and Responses to Comments

    The NRC solicited suggestions regarding the development of the 
proposed Tribal Policy Statement by posing the following questions: (1) 
How can the NRC strengthen government-to-government relationships with 
Native American Tribes? (2) What practices have the NRC or other 
Federal agencies employed that have been effective in identifying 
Tribal interests and resolving Tribal concerns about proposed agency 
actions? (3) Are there specific Tribal Policy Statements from other 
Federal agencies that could serve as a starting point for the NRC's 
efforts? (4) What unique Tribal issues should the NRC be aware of as a 
non-landholding, regulatory agency that issues licenses under the 
Atomic Energy Act? Comments and responses related to these questions 
are listed below. Comments submitted that related to the Tribal 
Protocol Manual, but were useful to the development of the proposed 
Tribal Policy Statement, were also considered.

1. How can NRC strengthen government-to-government relationships with 
Native American Tribes?

    Comment 1.1. Commenters suggested that the NRC may improve its 
government-to-government relationship with Tribes by developing a 
Tribal policy statement and engaging in regular dialogue with Tribes.
    Response 1.1. The NRC agrees with this comment. Current staff 
efforts have centered on revising the NRC's Tribal Protocol Manual and 
developing an agency-wide Tribal Policy Statement for Commission 
approval.
    The proposed Tribal Policy Statement recognizes the need for the 
NRC to seek out opportunities to engage Tribal officials regarding 
specific regulatory actions. The Policy Statement also recognizes that 
general outreach may be accomplished through NRC participation in 
Tribal meetings that are held by the NRC's governmental partners and 
through other fora. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement also 
underscores the NRC's commitment to its government-to-government 
relationship with Indian Tribes and reinforces the commitment through 
outreach and consultation. The proposed Tribal Policy Statement further 
underscores the NRC's commitment to its relationship with Indian Tribes 
by identifying NRC management and staff members responsible for 
overseeing Tribal consultation efforts.
    Comment 1.2. Multiple comments centered on the importance of 
recognizing Tribal sovereignty and the unique legal status of Tribes as 
well as the Federal Trust relationship during the NRC's interaction 
with Tribes. Commenters noted that Tribes retain inherent sovereignty 
and should be considered to be governmental partners rather than 
``stakeholders.'' Commenters suggested that the NRC should recognize 
that Tribal governments have

[[Page 71139]]

primary authority and responsibility for the protection of the health, 
safety, and welfare of their citizens and should be part of the 
government-to-government consultation process with respect to agency 
actions that may impact the citizens or lands of Indian Tribes.
    Response 1.2. The NRC agrees with this comment. The Commission 
recognizes Tribal sovereignty and demonstrates a commitment to 
government-to-government relations with Federally recognized Tribes, 
upholding the spirit of EO 13175. Congress authorized the Federal 
government to regulate specified radioactive materials to protect 
public health and safety and common defense and security in the Atomic 
Energy Act of 1954. The NRC has regulatory authority over these 
radioactive materials in areas of exclusive Federal jurisdiction 
including Tribal reservations. However, the NRC exercises this 
regulatory authority in a manner consistent with the fundamental 
precepts expressed in EO 13175 and supports establishing regular and 
meaningful consultation and collaboration with Tribal officials in the 
development of Federal policies that have substantial direct effects on 
one or more Indian Tribes.
    Comment 1.3. One comment suggested that the NRC should formally 
define the Federal Trust responsibility in detail.
    Response 1.3. The NRC agrees with this comment with respect to 
defining the NRC's Federal Trust responsibility towards Indian Tribes. 
The proposed Tribal Policy Statement reflects the NRC's recognition of 
the Federal Trust relationship and the NRC's commitment to a 
government-to-government relationship with Federally recognized Tribes 
with respect to agency actions that have substantial direct effects on 
one or more Indian Tribes.
    The NRC exercises its fiduciary duty in the context of its 
authorizing statutes, including the AEA, and implements any fiduciary 
responsibility by assuring that Tribal members receive the same 
protections under regulations implemented by the NRC that are available 
to other persons. The NRC will seek to consult with Indian Tribes on 
agency actions that have substantial direct effects on one or more 
Indian Tribes. Related staff guidance can be found in NRC Management 
Directive 5.1, ``Intergovernmental Consultation,'' which ensures that 
major interagency agreements, major organizational changes, significant 
rules and regulations, statements of policy, guides and standards, and 
major studies developed by the NRC that significantly impact Indian 
Tribes are prepared with appropriate involvement and meaningful 
consultation with Indian Tribes at the earliest possible stage (ADAMS 
Accession No. ML041770442).
    Comment 1.4. One comment noted that the NRC should provide 
refreshments during meetings with Tribes.
    Response 1.4. The NRC recognizes that providing refreshments during 
gatherings or meetings may be customary in some Native American 
cultures. Under Federal law, however, food and refreshments are 
generally considered to be personal expenses that cannot be purchased 
using Federal funds. The Commission must comply with Federal law 
pertaining to the provision of food or refreshments at meetings.

2. What practices have the NRC or other Federal agencies employed that 
have been effective in identifying Tribal interests and resolving 
Tribal concerns about proposed agency actions?

    Comment 2.1. One commenter suggested that the NRC should utilize 
other Federal agencies in developing shared information tools to better 
communicate with Indian Tribes.
    Response 2.1. The NRC agrees with this comment and works closely 
with other Federal agencies and interagency working groups on Tribal 
initiatives. The NRC routinely collaborates with other Federal agencies 
regarding Tribal consultations and has a related Memorandum of 
Understanding with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Additionally, 
NRC staff examined Tribal policies in place at other Federal agencies 
during the development of the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. The 
proposed Tribal Policy Statement recognizes the importance of 
coordinating our Tribal consultation efforts with other Federal 
partners.

3. Are there specific Tribal Policy Statements in other Federal 
agencies that could serve as a starting point for the NRC's efforts?

    No commenters identified specific Federal agency policy statements 
that should serve as a starting point for the NRC Policy Statement. 
However, the NRC staff examined 15 other Federal agencies' Tribal 
policies and used them as a basis for developing the proposed NRC 
Tribal Policy Statement.

4. What unique Tribal issues should the NRC be aware of as a non-
landholding, regulatory agency that issues licenses under the Atomic 
Energy Act?

    Comment 4.1. Commenters submitted suggestions related to unique 
Tribal issues that the NRC should consider during the development of 
the proposed Tribal Policy Statement. Commenters indicated that the NRC 
should recognize the distinction between Federally recognized and non-
Federally recognized State Tribes and noted that the NRC should 
consider State Tribes and other means for identifying Tribes that 
ratified treaties. Additionally, commenters noted that the NRC should 
consider the dynamics of the State and Tribal relationship, including 
the application of State regulations and policies to Tribal 
communities.
    Response 4.1. The NRC agrees with this comment in part, 
acknowledges the unique relationship that exists between the Federal 
government and Federally recognized Tribes, and recognizes that this 
relationship is independent of any State recognition of Tribal 
sovereignty. The proposed Policy Statement identifies the distinction 
between Federal and State-recognized Tribes. This distinction is also 
reflected in the revised NRC Tribal Protocol Manual. However, the NRC 
cannot confer Federal recognition on non-Federally recognized State 
Tribes and defers to the Department of the Interior for such actions. 
With regard to State regulation and policies, typically land within the 
boundaries of Federally recognized Indian Tribe's Reservations is an 
area of exclusive Federal jurisdiction for NRC regulatory purposes.
    Comment 4.2. Several comments stated the need for the NRC to 
understand the distinction between Tribal and Non-Tribal cultures, 
especially as they relate to energy development in Indian Country. 
Commenters suggested that the NRC should recognize that Tribal cultures 
vary from Tribe to Tribe and that some may place more emphasis than 
others on natural resources. Comments also suggested that the NRC 
should account for differences in culture related to the decision-
making process on energy development issues, allowing for flexibility 
in scheduling and input from members of Indian Tribes. Commenters noted 
that the NRC should not only recognize Tribal laws and spiritual 
beliefs pertaining to the environment and natural resources but should 
also include discussions of risk assessment. Commenters suggested that 
the NRC should respect Tribal moratoriums and explicit concerns related 
to natural resource extraction on reservations or lands nearby. 
Commenters also suggested that the NRC should work with other local 
agencies and institutions to gain a better understanding of the 
complexities and uniqueness of each Indian Tribe.

[[Page 71140]]

    Response 4.2. The NRC agrees with this comment and acknowledges 
that significant cultural differences may exist between Tribal and non-
Tribal cultures and between the different Tribal cultures. This is 
reflected in staff guidance provided in the Tribal Protocol Manual, 
which identifies examples of cultural differences between Tribal and 
non-Tribal cultures and considerations for the NRC staff, including a 
recommendation to research Tribal history and current Tribal issues and 
concerns.
    The NRC recognizes the importance that some Indian Tribes may place 
on natural resources. This is reinforced in the proposed Policy 
Statement, which notes that the NRC will engage in consultation with 
Indian Tribes on NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribes.
    The NRC recognizes that there may be differences in how the NRC 
staff and Tribes approach time and schedules during the decision-making 
process. The revised Tribal Protocol Manual has been updated to better 
reflect potential cultural differences with respect to agenda planning 
and scheduling. The NRC recognizes that Tribal elders and others 
knowledgeable about religious and cultural traditions can play an 
important role in the Tribal community during the decision-making 
process related to energy development and other important decisions. 
Chapter 2 of the Tribal Protocol Manual recognizes, ``Tribal 
sovereignty includes the Tribe's right to reach decisions and conduct 
meetings however they wish,'' and notes, ``Elders are highly respected 
in Tribal communities, whether or not they hold an official position.'' 
When the NRC engages in government-to-government consultations, it does 
so with designated representatives of the Tribal government, but the 
NRC's regulatory process allows additional opportunities for members of 
the Tribal community at large, along with other members of the public, 
to contribute comments and attend meetings.
    The NRC recognizes the Tribal views of natural resources and land 
impact decision-making related to energy development. Chapter 3 of the 
revised Tribal Protocol Manual notes that, ``Some Native Americans 
believe that all living things are interconnected and that the 
spiritual and natural worlds are one. Because of this, perceived 
threats to their environment may be viewed as direct threats to their 
health, culture, and spiritual well-being.'' The Manual encourages the 
NRC staff to practice open communications, adaptability, and open-
mindedness during interactions with Tribal members, including during 
risk assessment activities. With regard to Tribal moratoriums or 
concerns related to natural resource extraction, the NRC respects 
Tribal sovereignty and the Tribe's right to control the lands that are 
within their regulatory jurisdiction. The NRC licensees must obtain 
necessary permits or licenses from Federal, State, local or Tribal 
governments, as applicable, before operating under a NRC license. It is 
the NRC's practice to work closely with the Tribes, other Federal 
agencies and interagency working groups on Tribal initiatives to gain 
knowledge of Tribal cultures, beliefs, and environmental concerns.

V. Proposed Tribal Policy Statement

    This section includes the proposed language in its entirety for the 
proposed Tribal Policy Statement, as follows.
    The purpose of this proposed Tribal Policy Statement is to set 
forth principles to be followed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC) to ensure effective
    government-to-government interactions with American Indian and 
Alaska Native Tribes and to encourage and facilitate Tribal involvement 
in the areas over which the NRC has jurisdiction. It seeks to provide 
agency-wide principles to achieve consistency but also encourage 
custom-tailored approaches to consultation and coordination that 
reflect the circumstances of each situation and the preference of each 
Tribal government. It is the NRC's expectation that all program and 
regional office consultation and coordination practices will be 
consistent and adhere to the Tribal Policy Statement. This Tribal 
Policy Statement is based on the United States Constitution, treaties, 
statutes, Executive Orders (EOs), judicial decisions, and the unique 
relationship between Indian Tribes and the Federal government.\2\
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    \2\ This Tribal Policy Statement is intended only to improve the 
internal management of the Commission, and is not intended to, and 
does not, grant, expand, create, or diminish any rights, benefits, 
or trust responsibilities, substantive or procedural, enforceable at 
law or in equity in any cause of action by any party against the 
United States, the Commission, or any person. This Tribal Policy 
Statement does not alter, amend, repeal, interpret, or modify Tribal 
sovereignty, any treaty rights of any Indian Tribes, or preempt, 
modify, or limit the exercise of such rights. Nothing herein shall 
be interpreted as amending or changing the Commission's regulations.
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    The following principles shall guide the NRC's interaction with 
Indian Tribes:

1. The NRC Recognizes the Federal Trust Relationship and Will Uphold 
Its Trust Relationship With Indian Tribes

    As an independent agency of the Federal government, the NRC shares 
the unique trust relationship with, and responsibility to, Indian 
Tribes. At the same time, the NRC's actions must be in accordance with 
its authorizing statutes and regulations. The NRC shall respect Indian 
Tribal self-government and sovereignty, will honor Tribal rights, and 
meet responsibilities that arise from the unique relationship between 
the Federal government and Indian Tribal governments.

2. The NRC Recognizes and Is Committed to a Government-to-Government 
Relationship With Indian Tribes

    The NRC recognizes the right of each Indian Tribe to self-
governance and supports Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. The 
NRC recognizes Tribal governments as dependent domestic sovereign 
nations, independent from State governments, with separate and distinct 
authorities.

3. The NRC Will Conduct Outreach to Indian Tribes

    The NRC will consult and coordinate with Indian Tribes, as 
appropriate, related to its regulatory actions with Tribal implications 
and will seek additional opportunities for general outreach. The NRC 
will participate in national and regional Tribal conferences and 
summits hosted by Federal agencies and Tribal organizations, and will 
seek Tribal representation in NRC meetings and advisory committees 
concerning NRC regulatory actions that have substantial direct effects 
on one or more Indian Tribes.

4. The NRC Will Engage in Timely Consultation

    The NRC will provide timely notice to, and consult with, Tribal 
governments on NRC's regulatory actions that have substantial direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribes. Tribal officials may request that 
the NRC engage in government-to-government consultation with them on 
matters that have not been identified by the NRC to have substantial 
direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes. The NRC will make efforts 
to honor such requests, taking into consideration the nature of the 
activity at issue, past consultation efforts, available resources, 
timing issues, and other relevant factors.
    The NRC will establish early communications and begin consultation 
at the earliest permissible stage, as appropriate. The NRC will consult 
in

[[Page 71141]]

good faith throughout the agency decision-making process and develop 
and maintain effective communication, coordination, and cooperation 
with Indian Tribes. The NRC representative for consultations with 
Tribal officials or representatives will be of an appropriate rank of 
NRC representatives and level of interaction commensurate with the 
circumstances. The appropriate level of interaction will be determined 
by past and current practices, continuing dialogue between NRC and 
Tribal governments, and program office consultation procedures.

5. The NRC Will Coordinate With Other Federal Agencies

    When the Commission's action involves other Federal agencies, the 
NRC will perform its Tribal consultation jointly with other Federal 
agencies, as appropriate.

6. The NRC Will Encourage Participation by State-Recognized Tribes

    The NRC recognizes the distinction between Indian Tribes who are 
Federally recognized and those who are not. The NRC will outreach to 
States to identify the appropriate State-recognized Tribes to invite to 
participate in its regulatory process, including opportunities related 
to rulemaking, hearings, licensing, decommissioning, and enforcement.
Designated Official and Tribal Liaisons
    The Deputy Executive Director for Materials, Waste, Research, 
State, Tribal and Compliance Programs serves as the NRC's designated 
official for Tribal consultations.\3\ The designated official shall 
ensure that agency program personnel have considered the Tribal 
implications related to their responsibilities within the NRC's scope 
of jurisdiction and shall facilitate meaningful and timely consultation 
and coordination concerning the development, administration, and 
enforcement of NRC's regulatory actions that have substantial direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribes.
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    \3\ In 2006, the Commission created the position of Deputy 
Executive Director for Materials, Waste, Research, State, Tribal and 
Compliance Programs (SECY-06-0125, ``Proposed Reorganization of the 
Offices of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards and State and 
Tribal Programs'' (ADAMS Accession No. ML061950452)). The position 
includes different responsibilities, including that of the 
Commission's designated official for Tribal consultations.
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    The designated official shall be supported by staff who have 
functional responsibility to serve as intergovernmental liaisons to 
Indian Tribes, under NRC Management Directive 5.1. These NRC Tribal 
liaisons will facilitate government-to-government consultation by 
serving as the agency's primary points of contact for Indian Tribes, 
coordinating with the appropriate office or personnel regarding 
programmatic inquiries, and facilitating the appropriate level of 
communication and exchange of information between Tribal officials and 
NRC staff. The Tribal liaisons shall also educate NRC staff about 
Tribal issues including cultural sensitivity and the Federal Trust 
Relationship. The designated official shall have the authority to 
delegate tasks to NRC Tribal liaisons as he/she deems fit.

VI. Procedural Requirements

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This Policy Statement does not contain new or amended information 
collection requirements and, therefore, is not subject to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a request protocol for information or an information 
collection requirement unless the requesting document displays a 
currently valid OMB control number.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 10th day of November, 2014.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Rochelle C. Bavol,
Acting, Secretary of the Commission.
[FR Doc. 2014-27325 Filed 11-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P