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Abstract

The Village of Kivalina, and other similarly situated Native Alaska villages, are in danger of falling into the sea. Regional climate change is melting the permafrost that acts as the foundation of their communities. Sea ice that once acted as a barrier during storm season today melts earlier, and erosion rates are increasing. Kivalina’s situation is further worsened by the threat of contamination from a nearby open dump. Without permanent relocation, Kivalina and its residents face imminent harm.

Congress has given the President authority to permanently relocate an Indian tribe or Alaska Native village under CERCLA Section 9626(b). This article proposes that the President exercise such authority to protect the health and welfare of Kivalina and its residents. In view of the longstanding trust obligation of the United States to Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages, which is embodied in treaties, statutes, executive orders and court decisions, the President should exercise his clear authority to protect the Village from harm.

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