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Fighting for Air in Indian Country: Clean Air Act Jurisdiction in Off-Reservation Tribal Land

October 2015

Citation: 45 ELR 10966

Issue: 10

Author: Purba Mukerjee

Acting under its Clean Air Act (CAA) authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has attempted to regulate air quality on behalf of Native American tribes. However, the D.C. Circuit—in reviewing EPA’s tribal CAA rules—significantly cut back on these efforts, resulting in state encroachment on the environmental authority congressionally delegated to tribes. This undermines tribes’ sovereignty, control over their natural resources, and opportunities for economic development. EPA thus should change its approach in future CAA rules for Indian country, by relying on preemption, rather than its nebulous gap-filling authority in the statute.

Purba Mukerjee holds a 2015 J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. The author would like to thank Curtis Berkey for his thoughtful feedback and support. This Article won Honorable Mention in the 2014-2015 Beveridge & Diamond Constitutional Environmental Law Writing Competition.

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