Eastern Woodland American Indians now have a new advocate and voice on the President’s National Ocean Council Governance Coordinating Council. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Water Quality Section Supervisor Michael Bolt has been appointed to serve a two year term. On Feb. 23, 2011, the National Ocean Council established the Governance Coordinating Committee (GCC), in consultation with appropriate state, tribal, and local governments and organizations, to serve as a key coordinating body on inter-jurisdictional ocean policy issues. The GCC consists of 18 members from states, federally recognized tribes, and local governments.
The GCC is charged to find solutions to Deepwater Horizon, the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, and Climate Change. The overall welfare of our oceans will be the general focus. Some Tribes do not have a coastal water front while others depend on it for their way of life.
Bolt stated, “Oceans are a very unique ecology of the planet. In fact they are the breeding ground for the whole web of life which needs to be protected and enhanced.” Bolt is one of three Tribal representatives with the committee.
Several Tribes in Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island can feel the direct impact of variables in the ocean. Some have experienced difficulties and effects of erosion and pollution. All Tribes will feel the direct effects of climate change that is brought about through ocean levels rising and change in water temperature.
Bolt notes the GCC works to make effective changes to legislation that will identify and implement solutions for these issues. “My goal is to make sure that Tribes are included in these processes and that they are consulted so their voice is at the table,” Bolt adds.
United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET) was instrumental to secure the appointment for Michael Bolt to serve on the GCC. “USET works to improve the way of life in Indian Country through economic development, health and medical programming, housing, emergency management, social services, and natural resources,” stated USET president Brian Patterson. “All of those initiatives will be meaningless if we do not have a sound environment. We must be ready to address today’s issues and be prepared for the next seven generations. We believe the experience, education, and character Michael Bolt has and will proudly serve Indian Country. Our relationship with the federal government, our Tribes, and community at large is paramount to accomplishing our goals at USET. As a result we are proud to see Mr. Bolt appointed to this commission.”
Bolt is a seasoned technician, operator, analyst and manager of water treatment and waste water treatment. He has superlative knowledge and education on environmental and ecological systems and related issues. For more than 20 years, Bolt has worked as a wastewater operator in the southeast United States. He serves as chair of the USET Natural Resources Committee, Wastewater and Laboratory Analysts Certification Board and is vice chair of the National Tribal Water Council. In addition to his master’s degree, Bolt has completed postgraduate studies in environmental law and management at the University of Wales in the United Kingdom.
“Michael Bolt’s appointment to the National Ocean Council Governance Coordinating Council means a great deal, not just to USET Tribes, to Indian Country. We will continue to have a strong voice in shaping policy that will ultimately give definition to our communities,” says USET Executive Director Kitcki Carroll.
Bolt will serve with Tribal and state employees and elected officials that have expertise in environmental and oceanic experience. The National Ocean Policy establishes a cooperative planning process among Federal, state, tribal, and local authorities, and solicits extensive input from the public and stakeholders for approaches that are tailored to the unique needs of each region. It is designed to foster communication among all levels of government, save taxpayer dollars by eliminating waste, and reduce the conflict and inefficiency resulting from implementation of a maze of nearly 100 different laws, policies and regulations affecting the oceans.