The U.S. Interior Dept. says it will award $120.8 million for a total of 146 projects focused on helping Tribal communities address climate-related threats. Agency officials say the funding is the largest investment in the history of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Climate Annual Awards program

The investment will be drawn from Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding, and fiscal 2023 federal appropriations. It is part of an overall $440 million in Biden administration funding for Tribal climate resilience programs. 

The bureau estimated in 2020 that more than $4 billion is needed over the next 50 years to protect Tribal infrastructure threatened by climate change impacts. The greatest need is in Alaska, which will need more than $3 billion over the coming decades, it said. Surface air temperatures have increased steadily over the past 17 years, with the highest on record in 2023, says the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. 

Funding awards include $4 million to the Alaskan Native Village of Nelson Lagoon, a long and narrow fragment of land that is washing into the sea because of melting ice and more intense weather, to construct an erosion protection structure and new 300,000-gallon water storage tanks. About $3.2 million will go to the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians in Stewarts Point Rancheria, Calif., for its portion of a PG&E microgrid to avoid outages during intense storms. 

“The most severe impacts of climate change fall disproportionately on communities that are least able to prepare for and recover from them,” said Tom Perez, White House senior advisor to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs, in a statement. 

Bryan Newland, Interior assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said in a statement that funding will help Tribes “protect their ability to exist in their homelands in the face of a changing climate.”