News & Updates from WAGLAC
Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee
July 20, 2020
WAGLAC Summer Meeting Cancellation

As we enter August, COVID-19 infection rates continue to escalate. This uptick in infections is delaying the re-opening of some of our member states offices and limiting out of state travel.  

WAGLAC has a longstanding history of building valuable interoffice relationships and sharing knowledge through our roundtable discussions. Unfortunately, this year, our core mission of facilitating these connections and knowledge is a direct challenge to current health and safety guidelines that recommend limiting gatherings, require face masks and the physical restriction of social distancing.
We have done everything in our power to adapt to current challenges while considering all possible frameworks for an in-person meeting.  In an atmosphere where COVID is resurgent, it is with great disappointment we announce the cancellation of the WAGLAC Summer Meeting in Bozeman, Montana on August 10-12, 2020.  
In lieu of the WAGLAC summer meeting, CWAG will be hosting a virtual meeting on August 11 th  and 12 th .  We are confident the quality of our content, though presented virtually, will remain valuable. The Montana Natural Resource Damages seminar will be held virtually on the afternoon of August 11 th  as previously scheduled. In the next newsletter, we will share more information on the rest of the agenda and how to register for the meeting. 
October 12-13, 2020
The Grove Hotel
Boise, Idaho

-Roundtable discussion of natural resource, environmental, and Indian law cases
-CLE on Indian Law issues
-Agenda to follow
CWAG/AGA Presents:
Supreme Court of the U.S. Virtual Term Review
Monday, July 20th at 3pm EDT

  • The Honorable Mark Bennett, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Jeffrey F. Fisher, Stanford Professor of Constitutional Law
  • Ed Kneedler, Deputy Solicitor General, US Department of Justice
  • Clive Strong, CWAG Legal Director of Natural Resources and Environment

For more details, contact Andrea Friedman at
Trump finalizes rollback of bedrock environmental law NEPA
The Hill
July 15, 2020

"The White House finalized its rollback of one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws Wednesday, with President Trump calling the law the “single biggest obstacle” to major construction projects.

Critics say the rollback will gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which for 50 years has required the government to weigh environmental and community concerns before approving pipelines, highways, drilling permits, new factories or any major action on federal lands.

The changes from the Trump administration aim to streamline environmental reviews that industry complains can take years to complete. The reviews can take roughly four and a half years, while the White House would like to reduce that to two years."
Colorado Water Officials Create First-Ever Regulations For ‘Forever Chemical’ PFAS
CPR News
July 14, 2020

"Colorado has its first policy to regulate so-called 'forever chemicals.'

The state’s Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously to enact a policy to put new limits on per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. The class of chemicals is a common ingredient in everything from nonstick pans to foam used to smother flames from jet fuel. 

A growing body of scientific evidence has linked the chemicals to a range of health problems, including cancer and pregnancy issues. Meanwhile, federal efforts to regulate the chemicals have lagged, leaving states to take action on their own."
Federal judge blocks Trump administration's easing of rule on methane emissions
July 16, 2020

"A federal judge in California blocked a rollback by the Trump administration of a rule on slashing emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers of the Northern District of California said in her ruling that the administration's easing of the Waste Prevention Rule was contrary to the Interior Department's mandate to ensure safe and responsible drilling on public lands, and failed to consider scientific findings relied upon by previous presidential administrations."
FERC throws wrench into major dam-removal project
E&E News
July 17, 2020

"The country's largest dam removal project was thrown into question when federal regulators refused to let the current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to carry out the demolition.

At issue are four dams on the remote Klamath River in Northern California that have had a devastating effect on the region's salmon runs.

After years of efforts by local tribes and environmentalists, their owner, the Portland, Ore.-based utility PacifiCorp, agreed they should be removed. Oregon and California also support the effort.

But to do so, PacifiCorp has sought to transfer the dams and their licenses to the Klamath River Renewal Corp., a nonprofit established to manage their removal.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission disrupted the $450 million plan.

The commission wrote it is "generally satisfied" that the Klamath River Renewal Corp. "has the capacity to carry out proposed decommissioning" of the dams, but PacifiCorp must remain a co-licensee of the dams."
Judges: La. pipeline 'trampled' landowner rights
E&E News
July 17, 2020

"Developers of the Bayou Bridge oil pipeline violated the law when they built the project on private land before securing the rights to do so, a Louisiana court ruled.

A panel of judges for the Third Circuit Court of Appeal for the state of Louisiana instructed Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC — a joint venture of Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66 Partners LP — to pay a group of Louisiana landowners $10,000 each, plus legal fees."
From NEPA to North Dakota, 4 pipeline fights to watch
E&E News
July 14, 2020

"The outlook for U.S. pipelines changed dramatically last week with the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast natural gas project and a temporary shutdown of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Even so, the courts, the 2020 election and investor portfolios ultimately may be where the future of U.S. oil and gas pipelines is decided, analysts say.

If elected, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is expected to make a U-turn on President Trump's fossil fuel policies. Biden, who is facing pressure from his party's left flank to get more aggressive on climate issues, is likely to let Dakota Access, also known as DAPL, and the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline wither as he embraces clean energy, according to observers.

Yet Trump, if he wins, also could take steps to sway the industry's trajectory — and face more pipeline battles if he doubles down on efforts to fast-track energy infrastructure.

The legal system will play an important role, as will the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is facing calls from environmentalists to reexamine its permitting process."
N.D. tribes sue over ruling giving minerals to state
E&E News
July 16, 2020

"Leaders of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota sued the federal government due to an Interior Department opinion that sides with the state over valuable mineral rights beneath a portion of a man-made lake on the Missouri River.

The Three Affiliated Tribes' lawsuit said the Interior Department is attempting to illegally take part of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation ceded to the tribe before statehood. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages."
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 note, The 2019 Edition now appears on Westlaw under the Secondary Sources/Texts & Treatises category. We anticipate that the hardbound version will be out later this month
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.
Grondal v. Mill Bay Members Ass’n , ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2020 WL 3892462 (E.D. Wash. July 9, 2020) United States holds Moses Allotment No. 8 in trust and was entitled to summary judgment as to ejectment and trespass counterclaims against Plaintiffs with camping memberships on MA-8 lands subject to an expired lease.
Williams v. Medley Opportunity Fund II, LP , ___ F.3d ___, 2020 WL 3968078 (3d Cir. July 14, 2020) Arbitration article in Internet loan agreement providing that only tribal law applied was unenforceable because it prospectively waived debtors’ right to assert federal law-based claims.
Riggle v. State , ___ N.E. 3d ___, 2020 WL 4010132 (Ind. Ct. App. July 16, 2020) Defendant bore the burden of establishing that the state lacked criminal jurisdiction over victimless offense committed within Indian country.
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
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 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.
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, searchable database of all previously published WAGLAC newsletters, please follow the link below.