November 5, 2018

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend the upcoming WAGLAC meetings.
February 18-20, 2019
The Westin San Diego
San Diego, CA

June 17-20, 2019
CWAG Annual Meeting
The Ritz Bacara
Santa Barbara, CA
26 State and Local Governments Challenge EPA’s Proposal to Reverse Clean Power Plan
New rules would cause increased air pollution, potentially thousands more deaths and illnesses every year versus the Clean Power Plan
November 1, 2018

A coalition of 26 state and local governments including Washington state filed a comment letter challenging the EPA’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, which would not require significant carbon emission reductions.

In the letter, the attorneys general write that the Affordable Clean Energy rule “neither promotes ‘clean energy’ generation nor does it implement a policy that Americans can ‘afford’ given the need to aggressively cut carbon pollution from power plants and other sources to adequately confront the dangers of climate change.”
Supreme Court Won't Block Children's Climate Change Lawsuit
November 3, 2018

The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's request Friday to stop a lawsuit brought by youths who are seeking to hold the government accountable for failing to do enough to fight climate change.

The administration had asked the court to halt the lawsuit, saying it was "misguided" and a "radical invasion of the separation of powers."

In its unsigned order, the court said the administration had not reached the high bar necessary to halt the lawsuit for now. But the justices suggested that the government might be able to seek relief at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals at a later stage of the litigation.
Judge Rules in Favor of Trump Administration in California Federal Lands Case
November 2, 2018

The Trump administration scored a legal victory on Thursday when a federal judge in California blocked a state law that sought to limit the transfer of federal lands.

The California legislature passed Senate Bill 50, which would give the California State Lands Commission the first right of refusal over government proposals to sell federal land, in 2017. Environmentalists encouraged its adoption to allay fears that the Trump administration would sell large swaths of federal land to be used for drilling, mining or real estate development.

But the Justice Department sued the state in April, with federal officials claiming that the law already slowed down a number of planned transfers.

In its ruling handed down Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Judge William Shubb said the California law violated the Constitution because it interferes with the federal government’s right to regulate the sale of federal property.
Justices Take up Case of ‘Peace Cross’ on Public Land
November 2, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it would take up a church-state case that could reshape its interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The justices granted certiorari in two related cases: Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association and The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, both involving a war memorial in the shape of the cross on public land in Maryland and whether it violates the Establishment Clause, which bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled last year that the 93-year-old World War I “Peace Cross” memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, which is visible from a busy highway, “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.” The full appeals court in March denied en banc review by an 8-6 vote. Three other circuits have ruled differently in similar cases.
The State of Utah Seeks to Intervene in Two Lawsuits Over the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante Monuments

The State asserts "substantial interests, including sovereign interests, in the management of millions of acres of public land within its borders. Management of this land has direct and indirect economic impacts on the State and its citizens and directly implicates property rights held in trust by the State to support schools. Disposition of this matter in favor of Plaintiffs would impede the State’s ability to protect these interests; such a disposition could deprive the State of revenue and jeopardize the full use of the property rights it holds for the benefit of all Utahns.”
Indian Law Deskbook Summaries Update

Clay Smith, the American Indian Law Deskbook chief editor, resumed the practice of summarizing Indian law decisions assigned headnotes by Westlaw to facilitate the Deskbook’s annual revision. The summaries have been available for Deskbook chapter editors but may be useful to other attorneys in AGOs with Indian law-related responsibilities.
The summaries are posted in CWAG’s Google Docs account. If any AAG/DAG wishes to access the summaries folder (or “drive”), please have the attorney send her/his office email address to or The attorney will be sent a link to the case summaries folder. The link should be saved because the folder is regularly updated with new summaries. Any summary can be reviewed on-line and/or downloaded in a number of different applications, including Word and pdf. Contact Clay or 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.