Professor James M. Grijalva has recently had an article accepted by the Harvard Environmental Law Review for publication in the winter of 2020-21. The article, Ending the Interminable Gap in Indian Country Water Quality Protection, examines the 30-year history of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality programs in Indian country and identifies a continuing gap in the protection of waters. Professor Grijalva argues that gap creates a serious risk of environmental injustice that EPA has a trust responsibility to address, and recommends the development of federal water quality standards to ensure a basic level of protection for Indigenous peoples’ health, cultural preservation and treaty rights. In related news, the National Tribal Water Council, an advisory group to the EPA, has asked Professor Grijalva to assist in drafting a Water Quality Standards Handbook to guide tribal environmental program managers in developing effective regulatory tools addressing the water protection gap.
Professor Grijalva has worked with over 70 Indian tribes across the nation on a wide variety of environmental programs and issues. In 1994, he founded the Tribal Environmental Law Project whose mission is to remedy environmental injustice in Indian country by assisting tribes in seeking environmental self-determination. A number of federal environmental laws offer tribal governments that opportunity through implementing federal programs in Indian country. Tribes thus translate Indigenous environmental value judgments into legally enforceable requirements that apply to native and non-native residents of Indian reservations, and that can influence polluting activities near Indian reservations.