Environment News Service (ENS)

Environment News Service (ENS)

Native Hawaiians to Be Notified of Federal Environmental Actions

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

WASHINGTON, DC, September 25, 2007 (ENS) - The Department of the Interior's Office of Hawaiian Relations says it has established a Native Hawaiian Organization Notification List to help federal officials carry out their responsibilities concerning Native Hawaiian affairs.

The list is intended to help federal agencies identify Native Hawaiian organizations that are to be notified and/or consulted with as required by law when carrying out mandated federal duties such as reburying Native Hawaiian remains, cleaning up contaminated lands, conducting environmental studies, and protecting historic properties.

'It is our hope that this list will provide Native Hawaiian communities with greater notice of proposed federal actions in Hawaii,' said Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Chris Kearney. 'The better we are able to provide advance notice of a federal action, the better communities will be able to participate in the decision making process.'

To be placed on the Notification List, a Native Hawaiian organization must certify in writing to the Office of Hawaiian Relations that the group serves and represents the interests of Native Hawaiians; provides services to Native Hawaiians; has expertise in Native Hawaiian affairs; and wants to be placed on the list.

The Native Hawaiian group may also specify topical and geographic areas of interest. The request should include a contact name, phone number and e-mail address. The certification must be signed and dated by the Native Hawaiian organization's governing body and must include a valid U.S. mailing address where notifications can be sent.

The list will be activated 60 days after it appears in the Federal Register, where it will be published this week.

'Determining who to consult with has been a particularly difficult problem for federal agencies,' said Ka'i'ini Kimo Kaloi, director of Interior's Office of Hawaiian Relations. 'Having a Notification List in place will facilitate interaction with Native Hawaiian groups. It will help to create positive long term relationships between federal agencies and Native Hawaiian groups and allow federal officials to minimize the cost of consultation and devote more resources to their primary missions.'

The criteria for the list were developed based on information received during four public meetings in Hawaii and a 90 day public comment period. Several federal agencies also provided information, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the departments of Defense, Agriculture, Transportation, Health and Human Services and Education.

The notification list will allow federal officials to more rapidly satisfy statutory notification and consultation obligations under U.S. laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The list will be maintained and updated by the Department of the Interior. The Office of Hawaiian Relations will publish the names and contact information of the listed Native Hawaiian organizations. Placement on the list will be valid for five years, after which Native Hawaiian groups must renew their participation to ensure that contact information is current and list participants who no longer wish to be contacted do not receive federal notices.

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