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Environmental Justice in Indian Country: Dumpsite Remediation on the Swinomish Indian Reservation

Environmental Justice in Indian Country: Dumpsite Remediation on the Swinomish Indian Reservation The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The last decade has focused considerable national attention on the environmental pollution inequity that persists among the nation’s poorest communities. Despite these environmental justice efforts, poor communities continue to face adverse environmental conditions. For the more than 550 Native American communities, the struggle to attain environmental justice is more than a matter of enforcing national laws equitably; it is also a matter of a federal trust duty for the protection of Indian lands and natural resources, honoring a promise that Native American homelands would forever be sustainable. Equally important is the federal promise to assist tribes in managing their reservation environments under their reserved powers of self-government, an attribute that most distinguishes tribes from other communities. The PM Northwest, Inc. (PMNW) dumpsite is located within the boundaries of the Swinomish Indian Reservation in Washington State. Between approximately 1958 and 1970, PMNW contracted with local oil refineries to dispose of hazardous wastes from their operations at the reservation dumpsite. Almost two decades would pass before the Swinomish tribe was able to persuade EPA that a cleanup action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was warranted. This article reviews the enduring struggle to achieve Indian environmental justice in the Swinomish homeland, a process that was dependent upon the development of the tribe’s political and environmental management capacity as well as EPA’s eventual acknowledgement that Indian environmental justice is integrally linked to its federal trust responsibility. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Environmental Management Springer Journals

Environmental Justice in Indian Country: Dumpsite Remediation on the Swinomish Indian Reservation

Environmental Management , Volume 38 (6) – Oct 20, 2006

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References (47)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
Subject
Environment; Ecology; Forestry Management; Atmospheric Protection/Air Quality Control/Air Pollution; Environmental Management; Nature Conservation; Waste Water Technology / Water Pollution Control / Water Management / Aquatic Pollution
ISSN
0364-152X
eISSN
1432-1009
DOI
10.1007/s00267-004-0103-0
pmid
17058033
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as the “fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The last decade has focused considerable national attention on the environmental pollution inequity that persists among the nation’s poorest communities. Despite these environmental justice efforts, poor communities continue to face adverse environmental conditions. For the more than 550 Native American communities, the struggle to attain environmental justice is more than a matter of enforcing national laws equitably; it is also a matter of a federal trust duty for the protection of Indian lands and natural resources, honoring a promise that Native American homelands would forever be sustainable. Equally important is the federal promise to assist tribes in managing their reservation environments under their reserved powers of self-government, an attribute that most distinguishes tribes from other communities. The PM Northwest, Inc. (PMNW) dumpsite is located within the boundaries of the Swinomish Indian Reservation in Washington State. Between approximately 1958 and 1970, PMNW contracted with local oil refineries to dispose of hazardous wastes from their operations at the reservation dumpsite. Almost two decades would pass before the Swinomish tribe was able to persuade EPA that a cleanup action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was warranted. This article reviews the enduring struggle to achieve Indian environmental justice in the Swinomish homeland, a process that was dependent upon the development of the tribe’s political and environmental management capacity as well as EPA’s eventual acknowledgement that Indian environmental justice is integrally linked to its federal trust responsibility.

Journal

Environmental ManagementSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 20, 2006

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