February 18, 2019

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend the upcoming WAGLAC meetings.
NAAG Winter Meeting
March 4-6, 2019
Washington, D.C.

CWAG, as part of the NAAG Spring Meeting, will be meeting with acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.  The Attorneys General typically ask WAGLAC for a list of current issues to discuss with the federal agency heads. Please send Clive Strong at Clive.Strong@cwagweb.org a list of any issues you think should be discussed with the Department of Interior. 
WOTUS UPDATE: EPA and Army Announce Public Hearing on Proposed New “Waters of the United States” Definition
Hearing will be held February 27-28, 2019 in Kansas City, Kansas
February 6, 2014

“The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army [published] for public comment a proposed rule defining the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) [on February 14, 2019]. This proposal is the second step in a comprehensive, two-step process intended to review and revise the definition of ‘waters of the United States’ consistent with the Executive Order signed on February 28, 2017, ‘Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.’’
DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 15, 2019.
Under Trump, EPA Inspections Fall To a 10-Year Low
The agency’s inspection rate last year is half of what it was in 2010, while the civil penalties levied against polluters is the lowest since 1994
The Washington Post
February 8, 2019

"Under President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency inspected fewer industrial facilities during 2018 than at any time over the past decade, according to data released by the agency.

The sharp drop in inspections and evaluations last fiscal year — to roughly 10,600 — is only half the number EPA conducted at its peak in 2010, and continues a downward trend that began in 2012. Other enforcement activities at the agency experienced similar declines, according to EPA figures: The number of civil cases the division started and completed in 2018 hit a 10-year low, and the $69 million in civil penalties it leveled represents the lowest in nearly a quarter-century."
Western States Water Council Newsletter
February 15, 2019

"On February 5, the Oregon House Committee on Energy and Environment held hearings on H.B. 2250, a bill to adopt into state law the federal environmental standards under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act as in effect on January 19, 2017, before President Trump took office. Governor Kate Brown, who proposed the bill, testified at the hearing, along with testimony from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Farm Bureau, and Oregon Business and Industry.

Governor Brown has noted that both federal statutes work under a model of cooperative federalism, and that the states can adopt standards more protective than the federal standards. She pointed out that businesses have already made investments to meet the stricter standards, and that states are well positioned to take a leadership role in protecting clean air and clean water, and preventing the erosion of core environmental laws."
Dam Agreement Could Help Save the Future of Salmon, Steelhead
The Idaho Statesman
February 15, 2019

"For the third year in a row, biologists predict that Idaho’s salmon and steelhead runs will be very low in 2019, and many tributaries might see few if any returning spawners.

Warm waters in the Pacific Ocean have hurt all salmon runs across the Pacific Northwest since 2014. But Idaho’s fish, especially steelhead — which have to go over eight dams on their trip to the sea as juveniles — are facing the biggest problem."
EPA Says It Plans To Limit Toxic PFAS Chemicals, But Not Soon Enough For Critics
February 14, 2019

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will begin the process this year of setting limits on two man-made chemicals that are linked to cancer and other illnesses, and are found widely in drinking water and soil.

The agency's long-awaited plan — promised last year by former administrator Scott Pruitt — addresses chemicals that are part of a group known as PFAS, for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances."
The Senate Just Passed the Decade’s Biggest Public Lands Package. Here’s What’s In It
The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West, add three national park units and expand eight others.
The Washington Post
February 12, 2019

"The Senate passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon.

The 662-page measure, which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to dealmaking that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated home-state gains and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide."
Senate Confirms Trump Pick William Barr as New Attorney General
The Hill
February 14, 2019

"The Senate voted to approve William Barr as attorney general, giving the Justice Department its first confirmed chief since President Trump ousted Jeff Sessions last fall.

Senators voted 54-45 for Barr’s nomination, capping off a relatively low-drama fight over Trump’s second pick for the post. Barr was largely on a glide path after he cleared the Judiciary Committee and a procedural vote without any missteps that threatened GOP support for his nomination."
Judge Revives Lawsuit Over Casino Blocked Under Zinke
February 15, 2019

"An American Indian tribe can revive a lawsuit arguing that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke responded to improper political pressure to block a new casino, a federal judge ruled.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribe has contended that the Interior Department acted illegally when the agency refused to sign off on its plans to open a new casino in partnership with the Mohegan Tribe. After an initial lawsuit was dismissed last year, the judge allowed the tribe to add new claims of political interference and refile the case. Allowing the case to proceed means Interior will have to produce an administrative record explaining its decision."
Indian Law Deskbook Summaries Update

Clay Smith, the American Indian Law Deskbook chief editor, resumed the practice of summarizing Indian law decisions assigned headnotes by Westlaw to facilitate the Deskbook’s annual revision. The summaries have been available for Deskbook chapter editors but may be useful to other attorneys in AGOs with Indian law-related responsibilities.
The summaries are posted in CWAG’s Google Docs account. If any AAG/DAG wishes to access the summaries folder (or “drive”), please have the attorney send her/his office email address to  Clay.Smith@cwagweb.org or  afriedman@cwagweb.org. The attorney will be sent a link to the case summaries folder. The link should be saved because the folder is regularly updated with new summaries. Any summary can be reviewed on-line and/or downloaded in a number of different applications, including Word and pdf. Contact Clay or Andrea Friedman with any questions.
Updated  American Indian Law Deskbook  Is Now Available

The  American Indian Law Deskbook is a concise, direct, and easy-to-understand handbook on Indian law. The chapter authors of this book are experienced state lawyers who have been involved in Indian law for many years.

American Indian Law Deskbook addresses the areas of Indian law most relevant to the practitioner.
Topics include:
  • Definitions of Indians and Indian tribes
  • Indian lands
  • Criminal, civil regulatory, and civil adjudicatory jurisdiction
  • Civil rights
  • Indian water rights
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Environmental regulation
  • Taxation
  • Gaming
  • Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal-state cooperative agreements
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 30 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.