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Choctaw Nation receives $2 million in federal grants for climate pollution reduction

Four people walk on the sidewalk to enter the Choctaw Nation Healthcare Clinic in Talihina, Oklahoma.
Isabel Nissley
Four people walk on the sidewalk to enter the Choctaw Nation Healthcare Clinic in Talihina, Oklahoma.

The Choctaw Nation will soon start climate pollution reduction projects with grants from the EPA. The nation wants to focus on sustainability and stewarding a healthier environment in Southeast Oklahoma.

The Choctaw Nation received $2 million in federal grants from the EPA. The grants will be used to assess the cleanup of abandoned properties, greenhouse gas emissions, and viable climate solutions on tribal lands.

According to Tye Baker, the Choctaw Nation’s Senior Director of Environmental Protection Services, projects will start soon that will focus on reducing GHG and cleaning up the Talihina Indian Hospital Campus in Latimer County.

“The old tuberculosis hospital still remains and we don't use it for anything at the moment,” Baker said. “It's got a lot of hazardous pollutants still in it. Lead-based paint, asbestos that they used for insulation, and several other problems.”

The biggest grant the nation received is $800,000 to make the hospital environmentally safe and revitalize the building. Baker said the hospital is important to many Choctaw Nation citizens and will take four years to clean up.

“They were born there or their mothers were born there, or they received vital health care at some point in their lives,” he said.

For Baker, the pillars of his community are having access to clean water and air, good health care, and a sustainable future. He said the Environmental Protection Services works to ensure natural resources are in good shape for generations to come.

“Doing what we do sustainably and then adapting to the climate as we do it is sort of in essence, what climate pollution reduction is,” he said. “It’s very important to find ways to use our resources for the betterment of our tribal members and the community in southeastern Oklahoma.”

That’s the ultimate goal for more than $400,000 of $2 million in grant funds to assess what pollution exists in Choctaw Nation territory and to clean up abandoned properties.

“We're going to find ways to reduce those emissions and any new technologies out there for our generators, our businesses, or our manufacturing,” Baker said.

One project Baker is looking forward to launching will assess how LED lights can reduce emissions from homes, businesses, and other buildings.

Britny (they/them) reports for StateImpact Oklahoma with an emphasis on science and environment.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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