WAGLAC News & Updates
March 11, 2019
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.
WAGLAC meeting dates and locations are under development.
Please check the next coming newsletters for related News and Updates.
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  Clay.Smith@cwagweb.org or  afriedman@cwagweb.org. 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. 

Should you have any issues with the links, contact Andrea Friedman with any questions.
Gold King Lawsuit to Compel EPA Cleanup Will Proceed
Federal judge rejects EPA’s arguments to avoid responsibility
March 1, 2019
A federal judge denied EPA’s request to escape liability for the Gold King Mine Blowout, a massive spill of three-million gallons of toxic mining waste in August 2015 that contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Chief Judge William P. Johnson of the U.S. District Court for New Mexico denied EPA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits filed by the states and private parties, rejecting EPA’s arguments that it was immune from liability for the cleanup and damages caused by the Blowout
US Dismisses Appeals Seeking Delay of Implementation of 2015 WOTUS Rule
March 8, 2019
On March 8, 2018, EPA and the Corps of Engineers filed motions voluntarily dismissing their pending appeals in South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Wheeler and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Sierra Club v. Wheeler, ensuring the 2015 WOTUS rule will continue to apply in 22 states for the foreseeable future. The United States’ motions do not explain the reason for dismissal of the appeals. Dropping the appeals, however, is seen as a sign EPA and the Corps are preparing to finalize their pending WOTUS rule. Adoption of the proposed rule, however, will not resolve the issue as a number of states and organizations have announced their intent to challenge the proposed rule.
Gray Wolves May Lose Endangered Status and Protections
Once again, federal wildlife officials say their numbers have rebounded. But conservationists may go back to court to fight the move.
The New York Times
March 6, 2019

"Federal wildlife officials are proposing to strip endangered species protections from the gray wolf populations in the Lower 48 states, citing significant increases in their numbers across much of the nation.

The decision, announced by David Bernhardt, the acting secretary of the Interior Department, is likely to set off another round of court battles. Conservationists and biologists contend that some areas of the country, like the Adirondacks in New York and the southern Rocky Mountains, could be suitable habitats but wolf populations in those regions are vulnerable and still need protection to recover."
Bill Overhaul Oil and Gas Regulation Gets First hearing After Competing Rallies
SB 181 would give more control to local government
ABC 7 Denver
March 5, 2019

"The first committee hearing for a bill that would overhaul oil and gas regulation in Colorado was underway in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee after competing rallies for and against the measure.

Senate Bill 181 would give local governments more authority over oil and gas development and would make human health and environmental protection the state's highest priority, not energy production.

The bill would give local governments the authority to fine operators for leaks, spills and emissions and to impose fees for monitoring costs and inspections. It also allows those same governments to regulate noise from oil and gas operations and makes changes to the agency that regulates oil and gas in Colorado, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission."
President Proposes 25% Cut to EPA Budget
President Donald Trump proposes to reduces EPA’s 2020 budget from its current level of $8.1 billion to $6.1 billion. Of particular note to states is the administration’s proposal to reduce state grant programs for implementation of federal delegated programs from $4.2 billion to $2.7 billion, a cut $1.4 billion dollars. The $1.4 billion reduction in state grants includes reductions to both categorical grants, from $1 billion to $580 million, and state revolving funds that support water infrastructure projects, from $2.8 billion down to $1.9 billion. 

The FY2020 EPA Budget in Brief includes an informative discussion of the Administration’s focus on cooperative federalism. The Administration goal is to “[r]ebalance the power between Washington and the states to create tangible environmental results for the American people.” Another stated goal is to “[a]dminister the law, as Congress intended, [and] to refocus the Agency on its statutory obligations under the law.”
President Proposes $900 Million Increase in Department of Interior 2020 Budget
President Trump has recommended a $12.6 billion budget for the Department of Interior. The 2020 budget includes $239.4 million for Wildlife and Habitat Management programs for the National Refuge System, $155.6 million for Fish and Aquatic Conservation, $400 million for conservation activities at national parks, $919.9 million for wildland fire management programs, $1.1 billion for Reclamation water resource programs, $930 million for law enforcement on the border and in Indian country, $113 million for Land and Water Conservation Projects, and $55 million for sage grouse management plans. The Administration also proposes to provide $1 billion for Indian education programs; the funding, however, is allocated to the Bureau of Indian Education rather than the Bureau of Indian Affairs. $867 million of the Indian education budget will be allocated for core education programs and $194 million for facility construction and maintenance. 
The Administration also intends to propose legislation for active forest health management.
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.