NRC publishes draft tribal protocol manual for comment, begins developing policy statement

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking comments on draft agency procedures for consulting with Native American tribes and suggestions for a policy statement on tribal consultations that the staff will develop.

The agency is producing these documents in response to direction from the Commission earlier this year following an increase in the number and complexity of consultations between the NRC and Native American tribes.

The draft Tribal Protocol Manual provides guidance on effective interaction between NRC staff and tribal governments, and background on the historic relationship between the federal government and Native Americans. The draft manual is based on internal procedures used since March 2010 to govern the NRC’s interactions with tribal governments.

NRC staff will use the draft manual as a starting point for developing a policy statement on agency consultations with tribes. To further aid in developing that policy statement, the NRC is looking for comments from tribal governments and organizations, the public, and other interested parties. While the NRC welcomes all input, the staff is particularly interested in comments on four questions:

How can the NRC strengthen government-to-government relationships with Native American tribes?

What practices have the NRC or other federal agencies used that have been effective in identifying tribal interests and resolving tribal concerns about proposed actions?

Are there specific Tribal Policy Statements in other federal agencies that could serve as a starting point for the NRC’s efforts?

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

The NRC will take comments on the draft manual and input into the policy statement until April 1, 2013.