Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez introduces bipartisan legislation to support Tribal response to environmental threats


Third Congressional District Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washougal, has introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline Tribal Nations’ responses to environmental threats.

If passed, the Tribal Environmental Risk and Resilience (TERRA) Act would create an inter-agency framework within the Department of the Interior (DOI) to coordinate environmental resiliency and relocation efforts for Tribal Nations. The bill is co-sponsored by fellow Derek Kilmer, a fellow Washingtonian Democrat, and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

“As Tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by worsening extreme weather events, it’s important they can access the federal funding they need to build resiliency and address infrastructure challenges. When I visited the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, I saw firsthand the impacts of sea level rise and their efforts to relocate their community to higher ground,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement. “Currently, federal grant resources are scattered and requirements are inconsistent — and the bipartisan TERRA Act will streamline tribes’ access to these vital funding opportunities.”

According to the lawmakers, a streamlined and collaborative process between Tribal Nations and the DOI will reduce barriers while protecting tribal sovereignty, a key portion of the TERRA Act.

“Tribal communities are on the frontline of the climate crisis, facing threats that jeopardize their safety, cultural heritage and way of life. It is imperative that the federal government provides streamlined, effective support for these communities to adapt and thrive,” Kilmer said in a statement. “The TERRA Act embodies a commitment to respecting tribal sovereignty while enhancing their resilience against the harsh realities of our changing climate.”

The TERRA Act is endorsed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), Alaska Native Health Board, DOI Self-Governance Tribes, National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Health Board, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Pleasant Point Tribal Government, Shoalwater Bay Tribe and United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereign Protection Fund.

“The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians proudly supports the Tribal Environmental Resiliency Resources Act and applauds its introduction,” Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, said in a statement “Tribes throughout Indian Country, including ATNI member Tribes in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Northern California and Alaska, are confronting the impacts of climate change without a roadmap. ATNI has developed its own Climate Resiliency Program to address this gap and promote the goals of protecting Tribal health, safety, and welfare, and preserving tribal cultural and natural resources. The TERRA Act builds upon these efforts by providing a federal navigational tool and a path to comprehensive climate solutions Tribes can customize to their communities and implement themselves.”