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Erosion-Induced Community Displacement in Newtok,
Alaska and the Need to Modify FEMA and NEPA to
Establish a Relocation Framework for a Warming World
Ashley Rawlings†
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Introduction ....................................................................................... 200
II. The Imminent Relocation of Newtok Due to Climate Change Induced
Erosion. ................................................................................................. 203
A. The History of the Newtok Alaskan Natives ................................ 203
B. Climate Change Erodes Newtok ................................................... 205
III. The Domestic Legal Framework’s Failure to Address Newtok’s
Predicament .......................................................................................... 210
A. Federal Protections of Tribal Rights ............................................. 210
B. Federal Disaster Programs ............................................................ 212
1. Federal Emergency Management Agency ............................... 213
2. The National Environmental Protection Act ............................ 216
C. Alaskan Legal Framework ............................................................ 217
IV. Proposal to Create Relocation Remedies Under FEMA and NEPA
.............................................................................................................. 219
A. Create a FEMA Cost-Sharing Exception...................................... 219
B. Create a FEMA Community Relocation Grant Program .............. 221
C. Amend NEPA to Mandate a Lead State Agency .......................... 222
† Ashley Rawlings received her Juris Doctor from Florida A&M University College of Law in May
2015. She has competed as a writer and oralist in three moot competitions and has worked as a
Certified Legal Intern in FAMU’s Legal Clinic. Ms. Rawlings graduated summa cum laude from
Columbia College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and majors in
Marketing and Financial Services. She would like to thank her family and friends for encouraging her
throughout law school, with special thanks to Professor Randy Abate who was a source of continuous
support and provided a wealth of knowledge on environmental justice issues.

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