Returning to the Tribal Environmental 'Laboratory': An Examination of Environmental Enforcement Techniques in Indian Country

47 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2016

See all articles by Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner

Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: September 16, 2016


Given the significant value of considering tribal environmental law, this article fills an existing scholarly void by reviewing tribal environmental enforcement provisions. Effective regulation of any environment cannot occur without enforcement provisions, so it is helpful to look closely at how tribes are accomplishing such enforcement within tribal communities. To do this, the article starts with brief introductions to both environmental law generally applicable in Indian country and the importance of effective enforcement. Both subparts provide valuable foundations for later discussions, as understanding what environmental law applies in Indian country is crucial to any discussion of tribal environmental law. And, further, the second subpart demonstrates why specific consideration of environmental enforcement is relevant to any discussion of the overall efficacy of environmental regulations. The next Part examines existing tribal environmental enforcement provisions contained within tribal codes. This Part offers a fuller understanding of the types of mechanisms being utilized by tribes located within the boundaries of Arizona, Montana, New York, and Oklahoma. And, the final Part looks closely at the enforcement mechanisms of nine federally recognized tribes, each of which responded to a survey gathering information on such mechanisms. These survey results provide greater descriptive understanding of how tribes are (or are not) instituting such mechanisms. This Part also ends with some thoughts on the various mechanisms being utilized by tribes. Ultimately, this article provides a critical description of tribal environmental enforcement provisions for various tribes across the country. Such a fuller picture is vital to understanding the extent and value of the tribal environmental “laboratory” that exists within Indian country.

Keywords: tribal environmental law, tribes, environmental law, environmental enforcement, Indians, American Indian, Native American

Suggested Citation

Kronk Warner, Elizabeth Ann, Returning to the Tribal Environmental 'Laboratory': An Examination of Environmental Enforcement Techniques in Indian Country (September 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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