News & Updates from WAGLAC
November 16th, 2020

The WAGLAC winter meeting will be held as a virtual meeting February 16-18, 2021. Additional Details to follow.
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
Green Retreat On WOTUS, Banking on Biden Admin
E&E News
November 13, 2020

"A federal court allowed two environmental groups to withdraw from a challenge to the Trump administration's weakened Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and streams.

The request, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is an early sign of an anticipated change-up in legal strategy by advocacy groups and states as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take the White House.

Once in office, Biden is widely expected to undo a broad slate of Trump environmental rollbacks, including the current administration's revised definition of which waterways and wetlands qualify as "waters of the United States," or WOTUS."
President Trump Officials Rush to Auction Off Rights to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before Biden Can Block It
The Washington Post
November 16, 2020

"The Trump administration is asking oil and gas firms to pick spots where they want to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The “call for nominations” to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register allows companies to identify tracts on which to bid during an upcoming lease sale on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million acre coastal plain, a sale that the Interior Department aims to hold before Biden takes the oath of office in January. The move would be a capstone of President Trump’s efforts to open up public lands to logging, mining and grazing — something Biden strongly opposes."
Conservationists Say Oregon Dam Blocks Struggling Salmon
E&E News
November 11, 2020

"A coalition of environmental and fishing groups is suing a water district in southern Oregon over an aging, privately owned dam that they say hinders the passage of struggling salmon populations in the pristine North Umpqua River.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in Eugene, asks a judge to order the Winchester Water Control District to build a new fish ladder and make major repairs to Winchester Dam, which dates to 1890 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The dam is one of the oldest in Oregon.

The aging fish ladder on the 130-year-old dam blocks the progress of migrating Oregon Coast coho salmon — a federally protected species — as well as spring and fall chinook, summer and winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, and Pacific lamprey, according to the lawsuit. There's also no record that the water district has rights to hold and store water behind the dam under state law, the lawsuit said."
Bernhardt Order Gives States Veto Authority Over LWCF
E&E News
November 13, 2020

"The Interior Department is seeking to make sweeping changes to how Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars can be spent in what critics say is tantamount to a rewrite of the Great American Outdoors Act.

It's the latest chapter in the ongoing saga over the administration's rocky implementation of its signature conservation law enacted in August.

A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published this afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities spend and match grants through the LWCF, which funds access to recreation in states and federal land acquisitions."
Biden Transition Roster Leans Into Tribal Expertise
E&E News
November 11, 2020

"The law school dean leading the nascent Biden administration's Interior Department transition team has more than an academic understanding of the agency challenges ahead.

Now head of the University of Iowa College of Law, Kevin Washburn tackled tribal recognition, public lands, energy and other issues during his 2012-2015 service as the Obama administration's Interior assistant secretary for Indian affairs.

His selection to oversee the Interior transition could portend, among other things, a refreshed approach to tribal policies."
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
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.
Cross v. Fox, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2020 WL 6576152 (D.N.D. Oct. 28, 2020)Suit against tribal officials alleging restrictions on political rights, including voting, holding office and nominating candidate, violated the Indian Civil Rights Act dismissed for failure to exhaust tribal remedies, and claim alleging violation of the Voting Rights Act dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
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
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 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. For a complete database of all previously published WAGLAC newsletters, please follow the link below.