States and Indian tribes alike have compelling reasons for demanding regulatory jurisdiction over the Indian reservations' environments. Proponents of state regulation argue that "[a] state's ability to coordinate a successful and comprehensive hazardous waste management plan depends at least in part on state control of all hazardous waste activity within its borders." In some states, the reservations are not isolated from the activities and residents of the state. In Washington state, for example, some Indian reservations have a high percentage of non-Indian residents, and others contain cities, municipalities, and heavily industrialized areas. This "checkerboard" reservation developed from the federal government's policy to make "surplus" reservation lands not allocated to the Indians available to non-Indians. Now, states want to avoid checkerboard environmental regulation, and Washington, for example, "fear[s] that there would be an incentive for hazardous waste actors to locate on reservations if they could avoid the state's more stringent standards by doing so."
Sarah P. Campbell,
Indian Tribal Sovereignty and the Environment,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol27/iss2/11