News & Updates from WAGLAC
April 19, 2021
CWAG Natural Resources and Environment Meeting and
WAGLAC Summer Meeting
June 15, 2021

The WAGLAC summer meeting will be held in conjunction with the AGA 2021 Annual Meeting. On June 15th, CWAG Attorneys General will host a series of panels on water, environmental and Native American issues. This in-person convening will be broadcast live, link to be shared in the coming months. 

CWAG is seeking CLE accreditation for the program. Additionally, a short WAGLAC Administrative meeting will be held on Wednesday June 16th from 7:30am - 9:00am HST for WAGLAC members in attendance.

Please email Andrea Friedman at for more information.
Biden Administration Resumes White House Council on Native American Affairs 
U.S. Department of the Interior
April 15, 2021

"On April 23, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice will convene the first White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) meeting of the Biden-Harris administration. Secretary Haaland will serve as the Council’s Chair.

“The White House Council on Native American Affairs will maximize federal efforts to support Tribal Nations as they tackle pressing issues, such as COVID-19 response, reopening schools and rebuilding Tribal economic development,” said Ambassador Rice.

“This inter-agency Council reinforces the Administration’s support for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance and will help to fulfill the Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations.”
New Mexico Law Strengthens State Environmental Policy
Governing - The Future of States and Localities
April 12, 2021

"A bill New Mexico Democrats pushed as allowing for greater state control of environmental regulations was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham following the 2021 Legislative Session.

Senate Bill 8 allowed the State to set environmental standards “more stringent” than federal law, a change from how the law is currently written to allow state regulations by “no more stringent” than policies enacted at the federal level.

It passed the New Mexico Senate on a 23-15 vote and later the House of Representatives 39-29 before being signed into law on April 8."
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich Sues Biden Administration for Not Studying the Environmental Impact of More Migrants Coming Into the U.S.
April 14, 2021

"President Joe Biden's modest rollback of former President Donald Trump's border policies is attracting some novel legal challenges from anti-immigrant conservatives.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the Biden administration in the U.S. District Court of Arizona over the federal government's pause on border wall construction and the decision to end a policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico.

Both policy changes, argues Brnovich, should have had to undergo the kinds of environmental review normally required of federal infrastructure projects because they would increase Arizona's population."
Secretary Haaland Establishes Climate Task Force, Strengthens Scientific Integrity
U.S. Department of Interior
April 14, 2021

"Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued two Secretarial Orders to prioritize action on climate change throughout the Department and to restore transparency and integrity in the Department’s decision-making processes.  

SO 3399 establishes a Climate Task Force to coordinate work across the Department, including accelerating renewable energy development and identifying actions to foster investments in energy communities. The Order also provides guidance on how science should be used in the decision-making process and improves transparency and public engagement in the Department’s decision-making process. The Order additionally provides policy instruction to ensure that the level of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis across DOI bureaus is not diminished, that climate change is appropriately analyzed, and that Tribes and environmental justice communities are appropriately engaged. 

Secretary Haaland also issued SO 3398, which revokes a series of Secretarial Orders issued in recent years that are inconsistent with the Department’s commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water, and wildlife; and elevate science. Collectively, those Orders tilted the balance of public land and ocean management without regard for climate change, equity, or community engagement. The new Order does not impact the Interior Department’s ongoing review of proposals for oil, gas, coal, and renewable energy development on public lands and waters."
White House Announces Several Nominations to Interior Leadership
U.S. Department of Interior
April 14, 2021

"The White House announced the intent to nominate several officials to serve at the Department of the Interior, including:

  • Tommy Beaudreau, Deputy Secretary
  • Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks
  • Winnie Stachelberg, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget
  • Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science
  • The nominations will now be considered by the U.S. Senate"
U.S. West Prepares for Possible 1st Water Shortage Declaration
The Associated Press
April 17, 2021

" The man-made lakes that store water supplying millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months, dropping to levels that could trigger the federal government’s first-ever official shortage declaration and prompt cuts in Arizona and Nevada.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released 24-month projections this week forecasting that less Colorado River water will cascade down from the Rocky Mountains through Lake Powell and Lake Mead and into the arid deserts of the U.S. Southwest and the Gulf of California. Water levels in the two lakes are expected to plummet low enough for the agency to declare an official shortage for the first time, threatening the supply of Colorado River water that growing cities and farms rely on."
Clay Smith, the American Indian Law Deskbook chief editor, summarizes Indian law decisions assigned headnotes by Westlaw to facilitate the Deskbook’s annual revision.

Please reach out to Clay for questions regarding obtaining a copy of the American Indian Law Deskbook.
Indian Law Case Summaries
All summaries are posted in CWAG's google docs account, accessible through the link below. Should you have any issues with the links, contact Andrea Friedman with any questions.
United States v. Kunick, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1326670 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 9, 2021)Defendants violated 18 U.S.C. § 1167(a) by stealing free play credits for use in a tribal casino.
Hartsell v. Schaaf, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1341381 (N.D. Ind. Apr. 9, 2021)Pro se prisoner complaint seeking damages for allegedly unconstitutional search and seizure by tribal police officers and security personnel in connection with conduct at a casino did not state a claim for relief.
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin v. Evers, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1341819 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 9, 2021)All allotments of on-reservation land, regardless of the date made, to members of four Ojibwe Indian tribes were issued pursuant to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, not the 1887 General Allotment Act, and were not taxable by the State. However, allotted land once conveyed to nonmembers became taxable and remained so upon reacquisition by the tribes or their members.
In re J.S., ___ Cal. Rptr. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1220875 (2d Dist. Apr. 1, 2021)DNA test reflecting substantial “Native American” heritage did not give rise to reason to know “Indian child” status under the Indian Child Welfare Act where the tested relative had no knowledge that such heritage derived from a federally recognized tribe.
Jackson v. Shoshone-Bannock Counseling Family Service, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1377359 (D. Idaho Apr. 12, 2021)Pro se prisoner’s in forma pauperis complaint alleging claims under, inter alia, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens against a tribal entity and its employees failed to state plausible causes of action and was dismissed.
Stand Up for California! v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, ___ F.3d ___, 2021 WL 1437196 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 16, 2021)Department of the Interior’s final action taking land into trust for the Wilton Rancheria did not violate (1) the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, (2) authority redelegation procedures in the Interior departmental manual, (3) the 1958 California Rancheria Act, or (4) the National Environmental Policy Act.
AG Alliance Cannabis Newsletter

If you are interested in following cannabis law developments, please sign up for the AG Alliance cannabis newsletter by emailing Cole White at
Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee
CWAG oversees and coordinates the Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee (WAGLAC), which consists of assistant attorneys general involved in litigation related to the environment, natural resources, public lands and Indian law. WAGLAC was formed over 40 years ago and meets three times per year to discuss the latest developments in these areas of the law. AGO staff gain important contacts throughout the country in these important areas of the law.
Contributions For WAGLAC Newsletter
We rely on our readers to send us links for the WAGLAC Newsletter. If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two weeks) case, statute or article relating to natural resources, environment, Indian law or federalism that you would like us to consider for inclusion in the Newsletter, please send it to Clive Strong. For a complete database of all previously published WAGLAC newsletters, please follow the link below.