September 10, 2018

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend the upcoming WAGLAC meetings.
*You are encouraged to register for WAGLAC prior to Monday, October 8th, so that we may confirm room size and meals. 
November 7-9, 2018 
Heathman Hotel
Portland, Oregon
Check in on November 7 th
Meeting start 8:00 am on Nov 8th
Meeting end at noon on Nov 9 th
February 18-20, 2019
The Westin San Diego
San Diego, CA
Modernizing and Reorganizing the Department of Interior (DOI)
Tim Williams
Deputy Director External Affairs
Office of the Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Interior 
Desk: (202) 208-6015

Secretary Zinke’s vision for reorganization is to improve overall operations, internal communication, service to the American public, and stakeholder engagement. Aligning geographic jurisdictions across the Department will enhance coordination of resources and will simplify how the American public engages with DOI - particularly within the realm of recreation, conservation, and federal permitting. 
As you may recall, DOI has been working on reorganization since last year. In January of 2018, DOI launched a major step in the reorganization effort by hosting meetings and calls with Governors, local governments and external stakeholders to discuss a draft map of the Unified Regional Boundaries concept. In addition to connecting with our intergovernmental and external partners, we invited our career Senior Executive Service (SES) employees from all over the country to a series of meetings in Washington, D.C. to collaborate on the concept. 
Since those initial discussions and the hundreds of meetings across the country with intergovernmental partners and external stakeholders, we have established a final version of DOI’s twelve new Unified Regions for all of Interior’s Bureaus except for those which fall under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. The new Unified Regions are displayed in the attached map.
In the coming weeks, we will take actions to align DOI into the twelve unified regional boundaries. Bureau regional boundaries will transition from their current regional structures to participate in the new twelve unified regional boundaries. We are not reprogramming funds or making other specific organizational changes in the bureaus at this time. The Department does not anticipate mission, budget, or personnel impacts as the twelve new unified regions stand up virtually and begin operation.
These new Unified Regional Boundaries provide the framework for a new way of doing business. As we move forward, with your support, our new Unified Regions will allow important decisions to be made closer to where our stakeholders and intergovernmental partners live and work, and will greatly simplify our operations, and improve the services we provide.

Here are the next most immediate steps in this process:
  • Create Regional Leadership Teams composed of SES employees from each Bureau in each Unified Region.
  • The SES Leadership Team of each Unified Region will identify a Regional Facilitator.

The Regional Facilitator is tasked with collectively organizing activities of the Unified region on six specific areas: collaborative conservation, recreation, permitting, acquisition, human resource management, and information technology management.
  • Regional Leadership Teams will then identify key personnel and create six individual teams to work on the six areas of focus in each region. Tasks to be addressed by the Regional Facilitator and specific deliverables will be developed during this period. 
  • The Regional Facilitators and the Regional Leadership Teams will identify the “as is” and “future state” operations for their Unified Region. 
  • The Regional Facilitators and the Regional Leadership Teams will also develop an options paper to be used in selecting the Interior Regional Director (IRD) and in establishing an IRD rotation process. The IRD duties for each Unified Region will be similar, but geographic areas of the country will require slightly different skills and experience depending on the priority issues for that Unified Region.

Below are links to the new FAQ that has been updated to include more information about the twelve unified regions and the role of the Interior Regional Directors, and a link to where you can find more information on this effort including the final Unified Regional Boundary Map.

Also, we are sending two letters updating DOI staff of the changes. One letter will be sent to all DOI employees and one specifically to our Senior Executive Service employees who have played an integral role in the development of the reorganization. 

We value your input and feedback as we continue with this process. Please continue to send us ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Also, if you would like to set up a conference call or meeting to discuss in further detail, I am happy to help facilitate.
County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund
Docket No. 18-260 (August 30, 2018)

 The County of Maui filed a petition for writ of certiorari in Hawai’i Wildlife Fund et al. v. County of Maui, 886 F.3d 737 (9th Cir. 2018). The primary question presented is whether the County of Maui is liable under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for discharging pollutants into waters of the United States also known as navigable waters. The County of Maui injects wastewater from the Lahaina Waste Water Reclamation Facility into ground water. While ground water is not considered navigable waters under the CWA, the U.S. District Court for Hawai’i nonetheless held the County violated the CWA. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed reasoning that: 1) the injections wells are discharging pollutants through point sources; 2) the pollutants are fairly traceable from the point sources to a navigable waters, the ocean, “such that the discharge is the functional equivalent of a discharge into navigable waters; and 3) the pollutants reach navigable waters at “more than de minimis” levels. Response briefs must be filed by October 1, 2018.  

Weyerhauser v. Fish and Wildlife Service
Docket No. 17-71

Scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on October 1, 2018 (Issue is designation of critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog).
EPA Considering Revisions to CWA Section 401 State Guidance

EPA intends to revise its Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 program that governs states' approval of federally permitted projects. David Ross, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Water, told the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) Fall Meeting that EPA is considering revising the 401 process, including clarifying the timeliness and scope of state reviews, and raised the possibility of new guidance or rule-making.
S WC, LLC, et al. v. David A. Herr and Pamela F. Herr, et al .
Docket No. 17-1398 (April 2017)

SWC filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking reversal of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning U.S. Forest Service’s regulations limiting the use of gas-powered motorboats on Crooked Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness Area in Michigan. A divided Sixth Circuit panel held the Forest Service’s regulatory authority under the Michigan Wilderness Act of 1987 was subject to “valid existing rights.” The court observed that under Michigan state law “riparian and littoral rights represent a form of protected rights under the” Michigan Wilderness Act provisio regarding “valid existing rights.” Petitioners framed the question present as whether the Forest Service’s powers under the Property Clause to limit gas-powered motorboat use on lakes within a Congressionally designated wilderness area are dependent upon a state first acting to restrict motorboat activities on the portion of a lake outside the wilderness area. The United States filed a brief in opposition to the petition for certiorari. The petition was distributed for Conference on September 24, 2018.

Sturgeon v. Frost
Docket No. 17-949

Scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on November 5, 2018 (Issue is whether the National Park Service has authority to regulate the use of hover craft on the Nation River, which is within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska).
Washington State Dept. of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc.
Docket No. 16-1498

Scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on October 30, 2018 (Issue is whether the “right to travel” provision in the Yakama Treaty precludes Washington State from taxing fuel imported by a tribal corporation into the State of Washington). 
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.