WAGLAC News & Updates
September 23, 2019
WAGLAC Fall Meeting
October 21 - 22, 2019
Marriott Scottsdale at McDowell Mountains
Scottsdale, Arizona
In addition to the roundtable discussion of natural resource, environmental, and Indian law cases, there will be a CLE on Indian Law Issues. 
WAGLAC Winter Meeting
February 17 - 18, 2020
Westin San Diego
San Diego, California
In addition to the roundtable discussion of natural resource, environmental, and Indian law cases, there will be a CLE on Water Law Issues. Please plan to arrive February 16th, the contracted room rate is $209/night.
WAGLAC Summer Meeting
June 7-10, 2020
Springhill Suites
Bozeman, Montana
In addition to the roundtable discussion of natural resource, environmental, and Indian law cases, there will be a CLE on Natural Resource Damages. Announcement and agenda to follow.
Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration’s Attempt to Trample California’s Authority to Maintain Longstanding Clean Car Standards
September 20, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued "a final action entitled the 'One National Program Rule,' which will enable the federal government to provide nationwide uniform fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and light duty trucks."

"California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Air Resources Board, led a coalition of 24 attorneys general and the cities of Los Angeles and New York in filing a lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The lawsuit challenges the Trump Administration’s regulation designed to preempt California’s greenhouse gas emissions and Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards, also known as California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards. These standards — authorized in 2013 by a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and followed, in whole or part, by 13 other states and the District of Columbia — are a key part of state efforts to protect public health and the environment. In the lawsuit, the coalition asserts that this Preemption Rule is unlawful and should be vacated.

Attorney General Becerra leads the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York."
Webinar on Clean Water Act Section 401
The Association of State Wetland Managers hosted a Webinar for state officials on EPA’s proposed Clean Water Act Section 401 rule on September 20, 2019. The presenters were
Stetson University College of Law Professor of La Royal C. Gardener, Environmental Law Institute Senior Attorney James M. McElfish, Jr., and Mark A. Ryan.
How To Drop A Wetland Conviction: Court Says Intent Matters
E&E News
September 17, 2019

"In a ruling that could handcuff some environmental prosecutors, an appeals court threw out the conviction of a South Dakota farmer charged with disturbing property within the National Wildlife Refuge System." The appeals court panel rejected the government's argument that strict liability applied to the federal statute.

"While farmer Kevin Jay Mast laid irrigation drainage tiles on land covered by a federal wetlands-protecting easement, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his state of mind should have been taken into account."
Maui Council Retreats From Supreme Court Battle
E&E News
September 23, 2019

"A Hawaii county has taken a big step away from a highly anticipated Supreme Court fight over the scope of the Clean Water Act.

The Maui County Council voted 5-4 to approvd a resolution supporting a settlement of a permittingdispute at the heart of County of Maui v. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund. The decision could eliminate a foothold for the nation's highest bench to address a key question: Does pollution that travels through groundwater on the way to federally regulated waters trigger Clean Water Act permitting requirements?"
Secretary of the Interior Transfers Jurisdiction of Five Segments of Land to the Department of the Army to Secure the Southwest Border
Department of the Interior
September 19, 2019

"U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced the transfer of administrative jurisdiction of approximately 560 acres of Federal lands to the U.S. Department of the Army (Army) to build roughly 70 miles of border barriers. This action comes in response to a series of applications for Emergency Withdrawal as submitted by the Army for construction or augmentation of barriers along the southern border. No national parks nor segments from Indian country are included in the land transfer. "
Bill Would Reauthorize Rural Payments Program
E&E News
September 17, 2019

"A bipartisan group of Western senators wants to reauthorize for 10 years a program many rural communities rely on to pay for law enforcement, road maintenance and other critical services. The legislation would extend the payment in lieu of taxes program (PILT), which expires on Sept. 30, through fiscal 2029."
Pit River Tribe v. Bureau of Land Management

"The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment
in favor of Pit River Tribe and several environmental
organizations in their action against federal agencies
responsible for administering twenty-six unproven
geothermal leases located in California’s Medicine Lake

Section 1005(a) of the GSA provides that geothermal leases on federal land have primary lease terms of ten years, and allows the leases to be continued for as long as geothermal steam is produced in commercial quantities. Section 1005(c) states that leases subject to “unit plans” may be extended even if not productive during the initial ten-year term under certain conditions.

The panel held that the statutory meaning of 30 U.S.C. § 1005(a) was clear and unambiguous. The panel held that the provision permitted production-based forty-year
continuations at the end of the primary term only on a lease-by-lease basis, not on a unit-wide basis. 

Full Opinion below.
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
Recent Indian Law Case Summaries
No updates this week.
All summaries are posted in CWAG's google docs acc ount, accessible through the link below. Should you have any issues with the links, contact 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.
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@cwagweb.org. For a complete, searchable database of all previously published WAGLAC newsletters, please follow the link below.