Trust, Neglect, and Justice
PSJ: Policy Studies Journal
Manuel P. Teodoro, Mellie Haider, David Switzer
This study investigates the implementation of U.S. environmental protection laws under American Indian tribal governance. The landmark laws of the 1970s that form the core of America's environmental policy regime made no mention of American Indian tribal lands, and the subsequent research literature on environmental policy has given them little attention. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has primary implementation responsibility for environmental protection laws on tribal lands, which offers a unique opportunity to study direct federal implementation apart from typical joint state–federal implementation.
Further, because Indian reservations are homes to a disproportionately poor, historically subjugated racial group, analysis of environmental programs on tribal lands offers a unique perspective on environmental justice. We analyze enforcement of and compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to compare the implementation of environmental policy on tribal lands with nontribal facilities. Analysis reveals that, compared with nontribal facilities, tribal facilities experience less rigorous CWA and SDWA enforcement and are more likely to violate these laws.