News & Updates from WAGLAC
March 29, 2021
E.P.A. to Review Attacks on Science Under Trump
The New York Times
March 24, 2021

"The Biden administration is taking the unusual step of making a public accounting of the Trump administration’s political interference in science, drawing up a list of dozens of regulatory decisions that may have been warped by political interference in objective research.

The effort could buttress efforts to unwind pro-business regulations of the past four years, while uplifting science staff battered by four years of disregard. It is particularly explicit at the Environmental Protection Agency, where President Biden’s political appointees said they felt that an honest accounting of past problems was necessary to assure career scientists that their findings would no longer be buried or manipulated."
Senate Democrats Plan to Employ an Obscure Legislative Tool to Reinstate an Obama-era Climate Change Rule
The New York Times
March 24, 2021

"Senate Democrats plan to deploy an obscure but powerful legislative weapon in the coming weeks to try to quickly reinstate a major Obama-era climate change rule that the Trump administration had effectively eliminated.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, is expected next month to invoke the 1996 Congressional Review Act with the goal of undoing a Trump rule finalized in September that lifted controls on the release of methane, a powerful planet-warming gas that is emitted from leaks and flares in oil and gas wells.

Democrats argue that the move, which will be sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, will have the legal effect of immediately reinstating the Obama methane rules. That would be a far more rapid timetable than the yearslong regulatory process typically required to undo or reinstate regulations."
Court Struggles With the "Indefensible Morass" it's Made in Indian Law
March 26, 2021

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 23, 2021 in United States v. Cooley, No. 19-1414, which presents the question, as stated in the United States’ petition for writ of certiorari, “[w]hether the lower courts erred in suppressing evidence on the theory that a police officer of an Indian tribe lacked authority to temporarily detain and search respondent, a non-Indian, on a public right-of-way within a reservation based on a potential violation of state or federal law.” As the question indicates, the case presents an important issue to a Court containing three members (Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, JJ.) whose views on the inherent tribal authority issue have not been expressed previously.
Agency Reverses Trump-era Oil Rights Ruling Snubbing Tribes
ABC News
March 22, 2021

"The Biden administration has scrapped a Department of Interior opinion under Donald Trump that attempted to strip mineral rights under the original Missouri River riverbed from a North Dakota tribal nation.

The memorandum posted by the U.S. Department of Interior withdraws a May 2020 opinion concluding that the state is legal owner of submerged lands beneath the river where it flows through the Fort Berthold Reservation. That memo rolled back an Obama administration favoring the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, which then filed two federal lawsuits opposing the decision."
Chief Justice Roberts' Statement Questions Broad Presidential Authority Under the Antiquities Act of 1906
JD Supra
March 25, 2021

"On March 22, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in a case that upheld President Obama’s designation under the Antiquities Act of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the northern Atlantic Ocean. In Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Ass’n v. Ross, 945 F.3d 535 (D.C. Cir. 2019), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the claim that the designation, which covered roughly 5,000 square miles of ocean, was overly broad and improperly interfered with commercial fishing operations. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, but Chief Justice Roberts issued a statement with important implications for future designations. Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Ass’n v. Raimondo, 592 U.S. ___ (No. 20-97) (Mar. 22, 2021)."
Antiquities Act Could Play A Monumental Role in 30x30
E&E News
March 26, 2021

"With the stroke of a pen, presidents can set aside acres upon acres of public lands for conservation under the Antiquities Act — a potentially enticing shortcut for a White House vowing to protect 30% of the nation's lands and waters in a natural state over the next decade.

But ahead of conservation recommendations expected from the Interior Department to President Biden next month, observers can only speculate how large a role the 1906 law will play in meeting the "30x30" goal.

Critics of federal land management are readying for new national monument skirmishes, while environmentalists emphasize that any Biden designations will have to be just one component of a much broader plan."
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.
Beetus v. United States, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2021 WL 1093617 (D. Ariz. Mar. 22, 2021)Operation of a cultural and wellness camp included activities subject at least in part to Federal Tort Claims Act coverage pursuant to section 314 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Miller v. United States, ___ F.3d ___, 2021 WL 1152310 (9th Cir. Mar. 26, 2021)District court erred in granting a motion to dismiss a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging tortious discharge of a tribal police officer based on tribe’s failure to follow Bureau of Indian Affairs mandatory disciplinary procedures and in denying a motion to amend the complaint with FTCA claims alleging that the tribal officials discharged him on a basis that they knew was unfounded
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.