Come work with us!

The Indigenous Law & Policy Center at MSU College of Law is hiring a new Communications Coordinator. Internal MSU applications are due Tuesday, April 20, and external applications are due Tuesday, April 27. Please share this post with anyone who may be interested.

The public job announcement on the Careers @ MSU site is available here.

Complaint in Pawnee Nation lawsuit for Earthquake Damage caused by Wastewater Injection

Here is the complaint filed in the Pawnee Nation Tribal Court in Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma v. Eagle Road Oil LLC, et al.

On Friday, March 3, the Pawnee Nation sued 27 companies that operate wastewater disposal wells used in fracking operations in and near Pawnee, Oklahoma.  The complaint alleges that the actions of the defendants have contributed to earthquakes and resulting damage to the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and it includes claims based on strict liability, negligence, private nuisance, and trespass. The Tribe seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Pawnee Nation sues several oil and gas companies in Tribal Court for quake damage

We noted last November that the Pawnee Nation sued the Dept. of Interior in federal district court to challenge the approval of federal oil and gas leases on tribal lands here.

Today, several news agencies here, here, and here report that the Pawnee Nation has sued 27 oil and gas companies in the Pawnee Nation Tribal Court for damage caused by earthquakes.  Earthquakes have been associated with wastewater injection practices used in conjunction with hydraulic frackingLast September, the Pawnee Nation suffered damage to historic buildings due to a 5.6 magnitude earthquake.

We’ll post a copy of the complaint as soon as it becomes available.


Law Students: Enter the LSAC 2017 Diversity Writing Competition to win $5000

This year’s LSAC Diversity Writing Competition topic is “Why Pipeline Programs Targeting Students from Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds are Essential to the Future of the Legal Profession.”  Current JD candidates are invited to submit papers addressing this topic.  The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 31, 2017, and LSAC will award three $5000 prizes to the best paper submitted by a 1L, 2L, and 3L/4L.  In addition, one winner will have a chance to publish their entry in the Journal of Legal Education.

We know there are law students following Turtle Talk who could write excellent papers on this topic. LSAC’s rules for submissions are here.

EPA publishes Revised Interpretation of Clean Water Act TAS Provision

On May 16, the EPA published a final revised interpretation of the Clean Water Act’s TAS provision in the Clean Water Act, concluding that the Treatment as State provision includes an express delegation of authority by Congress to Indian tribes to administer regulatory programs over their entire reservations, subject to section 518(e)’s eligibility requirements.  This revised interpretation eases the burden for tribes applying for TAS status under the Act, removing the hurdle of having to demonstrate inherent regulatory authority under the Montana test in order to apply for TAS status.  The revised interpretation is likely to reduce the time and resources required to obtain EPA approval of TAS applications, particularly for tribes with lands owned by non-Indians within their reservation boundaries.

The Final Interpretive Rule published in the Federal Register is here.

The EPA’s Response to Public Comments on the Revised Interpretation here.

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Indian Law Job Announcements

I added a new page that provides an overview for finding Indian law job announcements on Turtle Talk and elsewhere on the internet.  To access it, click on “Indian Law Job Announcements” in the black bar immediately below our Turtle Talk banner at the top of the webpage.  The page offers advice for first and second year law students seeking summer clerkships as well as third year law students and law graduates seeking permanent employment.


New Article by Lorinda Riley on the Role of Politics in Federal Recognition

Lorinda Riley has published “When a Tribal Entity Becomes a Nation: The Role of Politics in the Shifting Federal Recognition Regulations,” in the American Indian Law Review.

Here is a description excerpted from the article’s introduction:

This article explores how each presidential administration has both shaped and bent the federal recognition regulations to fulfill its political priorities. By merging a quantitative analysis of each administration’s federal recognition record and the political realities that each administration faced, this study provides a rare inquiry into the political nature of the recognition process. First, this article examines the regulatory history of federal recognition, including a detailed discussion of various versions of the regulation and accompanying guidance published by the Department of the Interior (DOI). Then the article provides an overview of how politics play into the regulatory process and the implementation of regulation. Finally, the article re-visits each administration’s actions related to federal recognition, and considers how each administration has utilized these regulations to serve its own political priorities.