EPA announces new office for tribal government affairs
The Obama administration has created a new office at the Environmental Protection Agency for tribal issues.

Tribes will now be grouped with international efforts at EPA. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the new Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) reflects the sovereignty of tribal nations.

"This change ensures that we approach our relationship with the sovereign tribal nations within our own country in the same way we approach our relationship with sovereign nations beyond U.S. borders," said Jackson in a press release. "I am confident this move will result in new and positive directions for the EPA-Tribal partnership."

Michelle DePass will head the OITA. She was confirmed by the Senate as assistant administrator for international affairs.

"Tribes and tribal lands face disproportionate environmental and public health concerns" DePass said in the press release. "It is my honor to assume leadership of the American Indian Environmental Office - and I look forward to working with tribal communities as partners in overall efforts to address these pressing issues,"

Previously, tribal issues were handled by the American Indian Environmental Office, within the EPA Office of Water.