News & Updates from WAGLAC
July 26th, 2021
The WAGLAC Fall meeting will be held in Seattle, WA in early October, 2021.
The WAGLAC Winter meeting will be held in San Diego, CA during the week of President's Day, 2022. Meeting details to follow.
The Path to Achieving Justice40
The White House Blog
July 20, 2021

"Justice40 is a whole-of-government effort to ensure that Federal agencies work with states and local communities to make good on President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. We are taking a key step toward achieving the President’s ambitious goal and issuing interim guidance that will help Federal agencies deliver on the Justice40 Initiative.

“The interim guidance [from] the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy introduces measures to guide agencies on their path to implementing Justice40, launches the Justice40 Pilot Program, and includes accountability and transparency tools to ensure agencies are working to reach the Justice40 goal.”
EPA Failed to Issue Mercury Standards for Water in Idaho
July 20, 2021

"A judge in Boise federal court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed in its duty to timely issue mercury water-quality standards to replace state-level ones it deemed noncompliant with the Clean Water Act (CWA) more than a decade ago.

In a recent ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge David Nye said that environmental groups including Northwest Environmental Advocates were right to claim in a lawsuit that the agency violated its nondiscretionary duty to "promptly" publish CWA-compliant water-quality standards for mercury to replace those Idaho issued after it found they failed to protect aquatic life."
Law Seminar International’s 14th Annual Advanced Natural Resource Damages Conference
VIRTUAL: August 12th and 13th, 2021
Overview: This year’s conference will focus on addressing climate change, environmental justice, and widespread contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – and the direct implication these issues have on natural resource damages practitioners.
For government discount rates and more information, please contact Bill Jackson at
Western States Water Council Newsletter #2462
July 23, 2021

"On July 15, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act (S. 2369). The bill would increase funding for water infrastructure programs under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Bureau of
Reclamation (USBR), the Environmental Protection Agency, and Indian Health Service. The bill directs the agencies to consult with Indian Health Services regarding interagency collaboration, prioritization, staffing needs, and ensuring the funds are effectively used to promote access to water and sanitation.

The bill’s section on Congressional findings notes that: “[I]n the United States, access to reliable, clean, and drinkable water has long been a significant problem in many Native communities, such that nearly half of all households in those communities do not have access to reliable water sources, clean drinking water, or basic sanitation, and are significantly more likely than White households to lack indoor plumbing.”
Tribes Sue Montana Over lack of Native American History Taught in Public Schools
Missoula Current
July 23, 2021

"Montana Native Americans claim their history and cultural heritage is not being preserved by their state’s public schools, according to a new lawsuit brought by five Indian nations and over a dozen students.

The 35-page lawsuit filed against, among others, the state’s Office of Public Instruction and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen claims that officials have not kept up with their responsibilities under the state’s Indian Education for All Act (IEFA). Passed over 20 years ago, the law was made to enforce a 1972 amendment to Montana’s Constitution that officially recognized the importance of preserving the “distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians” in the state, with Montana being the only state in the country to have such a constitutional clause."
People in Interest of C.R.W., 2021 S.D. 42, ___ N.W.2d ___
July 21, 2021

Tribe had standing to request disqualification of an attorney appointed under a state statute to represent the best interests of an Indian child alleged to be neglected or abused, but the Indian Child Welfare Act did not preempt the statute; and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying motion to transfer a parental-rights-termination proceeding to tribal court.
Governor Stitt Sues U.S. Department of Interior for Unlawful Federal Overreach
July 19, 2021

"Governor Kevin Stitt, working with the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Interior, Secretary Deb Halaand and other Biden administration officials for unlawfully attempting to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation operations."
'Complete, Dysfunctional Chaos': Oklahoma Reels After Supreme Court Ruling On Indian Tribes
The Washington Post
July 24, 2021

"The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma said prosecution of Native Americans for crimes in the expanded Indian country must be carried out in federal and tribal courts, rather than by state or local officials. It was celebrated across the country by Native Americans last July, who saw it as a historic affirmation of treaties signed with the U.S. government in the 1800s.

But in the year since, the ruling has upended Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, imperiled convictions in thousands of cases, sowed confusion for police and emergency responders and led to the direct release of more than 50 criminals convicted on charges including second-degree murder and child abuse, state records show."
Illegal Marijuana Grows Are Stealing From California's Scarce Water
High Country News
July 21, 2021

"As drought grips most of California, water thievery across the state has increased to record levels. Bandits in water trucks are backing up to rivers and lakes and pumping free water they sell on a burgeoning black market. Others, under cover of darkness, plug into city hydrants and top up. Thieves also steal water from homes, farms and private wells, and some even created an elaborate system of dams, reservoirs and pipelines during the last drought. Others are MacGyvering break-ins directly into pressurized water mains, a dangerous and destructive approach known as hot-tapping. 

In Mendocino County, the thefts from rivers and streams are compromising already depleted Russian River waterways. In one water district there, thefts from hydrants could compromise a limited water supply for fighting fires, which is why they have put locks on hydrants."
Biden Proposes Restoring 3.4 Million Acres of Northern Spotted Owl Habitat, Reversing Trump Rule
The Washington Post
July 19, 2021

"The Biden administration proposed restoring habitat protections across more than 3 million acres of Pacific Northwest forests that are home to the dwindling population of northern spotted owls — a bird that has been a symbol of the fight between environmentalists and loggers for decades.

The proposed rule change would reverse a decision made in the waning days of the Trump administration that stripped critical habitat protections from swaths of federal lands across 45 counties in Washington, Oregon and California — more than a third of the bird’s total protected habitat and much of it in prime timberland in Oregon’s coastal ranges."
NIMBY-Proof? N.J. Takes Major Step On Offshore Wind
E&E News
July 23, 2021

"New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law stripping local communities of authority over placement of transmission lines, removing a chief obstacle for offshore wind in the state.

The move, while focused on just one state, highlights national tensions cropping up over a planned acceleration of renewable energy projects that some local residents say are being forced upon them. The battles are likely to increase as a swath of offshore wind projects are considered up and down the East Coast and President Biden pushes to decarbonize the power sector by 2035."
Clay Smith, the American Indian Law Deskbook chief editor, summarizes Indian law decisions assigned headnotes by Westlaw to facilitate the Deskbook’s annual revision.

Editions of the Deskbook are published annually by Thomson Reuters, and the 2021 Edition was issued during the week of July 19, 2021. It is available on Westlaw in the Secondary Sources/Texts & Treatises category and in hard copy.

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.
Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe v. Becerra, ___ F.4th ___, 2021 WL 3120766 (D.C. Cir. Jul. 23, 2021)Tribe is entitled to receive as part of the secretarial amount under an Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act contract for operation of an emergency medical services program and a health clinic amounts attributable to provision of services to another tribe’s members but not amounts received from third-party payors.
Scudero v. State, ___ P.3d ___, 2021 WL 3123069 (Alaska Jul. 23, 2021)State statute regulating commercial fishing was necessary to conserve the involved resource and was therefore enforceable in a non-discriminatory manner against a Metlakatla Indian Community member who claimed off-reservation aboriginal fishing rights.
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.