Seeking Tribal Government Comments on Proposed NEPA Rules

Recently, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released new proposed rules for the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed rules would significantly change the environmental permitting process and gut the review process, impacting tribal interests throughout Indian Country.

Comments are now open. Anyone, individuals or tribal governments, may submit comments on these rules. Importantly, comments and collecting evidence of negative impacts are very important at this stage in the process to preserve future legal claims. Tribal governments are strongly encouraged to submit comments. Comments are open until March 10, 2020.

Currently, the MSU Indian Law Clinic is collaborating with Earthjustice to create a general comment letter to submit regarding how the proposed rules impact tribal interests. Additionally, Earthjustice is seeking to support and assist tribes who would like to submit a comment letter. Please contact Stefanie Tsosie (Senior Associate Attorney at Earthjustice) here if you have questions or would like further assistance drafting a comment letter.

For more information on the proposed NEPA rules, please see this NEPA Factsheet and this article in NPR about the impacts of these rules.

Call for Submissions: Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

The Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy (AJELP) is putting out an open call for submissions on a rolling basis for Fall 2018 publication. We are looking for publications focused on environmental issues and policy, specifically with the Southwest in mind. We welcome any and all perspectives! Click here for more information.

Friday Job Announcements

Job vacancies are posted on Fridays. Any posts received prior to 12pm EST on Friday will appear in that Friday’s announcements. If you would like to submit a post for an Indian law or leadership job, please send a PDF job announcement and a brief description of job to

Department of Justice

Assistant United States Attorney, Asheville, N.C. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina encompasses 32 western counties in North Carolina. Our mission is to seek justice. Protect the rights and safety of the public by vigorously, ethically and impartially enforcing the laws of the United States and Safeguard the Federal funds and resources. The duties of a Civil AUSA will include filing civil complaints and enforcing civil and criminal judgments, conducting legal research, writing briefs, taking deposits, appearing in court, and conducting investigations. Applications close on June 15, 2018. Please see the website for more information.

Oglala Sioux Nation

Justices, Pine Ridge, S.D. The Supreme Court of the Oglala Sioux Nation is looking to fill three (3) Supreme Court Justice positions and one (1) Alternate Justice position. All Justices of the Supreme Court must have a Juris Doctorate from an A.B.A. accredited law school and must be licensed to practice law in any state or federal jurisdiction. Justices of the Supreme Court shall be appointed to the Supreme Court by the Tribal Council and shall serve a six year term. Please see the announcement for more information. Applications open until positions are filled.

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Habitat Policy Analyst II, Olympia, W.A. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) is looking for a Habitat Policy Analyst to provide policy analysis, support and coordination on emerging habitat issues for Commission and member tribes to advance habitat protection and restoration objective necessary to the protection of tribal treaty rights and resources. NWIFC is looking for someone with a Master’s degree in environmental science, public administration, legal or related fields and seven years of pertinent work experience. Applications open until July 6, 2018. Please see the announcement for more information.

Last week’s postings: June 8, 2018.

Friday Job Announcements

Job vacancies are posted on Friday. Additional announcements may appear throughout the week. If you would like your Indian law or leadership job posted on Turtle Talk, please email

DNA-People’s Legal Services, Inc.

Managing Attorney, Flagstaff, A.Z. The managing attorney is responsible for the management and oversight of the office they are assigned, including ensuring that office meets or exceed operational goals and objectives, providing necessary legal services for assigned cases, and liaising with the office staff to ensure effective client service business operations. At least three years of litigation experience preferred and should be licensed by the State Bar of Arizona.

Staff Attorney, Flagstaff and Tuba City, A.Z. The staff attorney will practice law on behalf of eligible clients. This attorney assists with prosecution of criminal cases in the Hopi Prosecutor Defender Office, and this attorney assists in civil cases for DNA offices. This position entails significant courtroom advocacy. Two years of litigation experience is preferred and should be licensed by the State Bar of Arizona.

Native Village of Eyak

Consultant , Cordova, A.K. The Native Village of Eyak is soliciting proposals for a consultant to assist in the development of an intensive outpatient treatment program for the Ilanka Community Wellness Center. Proposals must be received at the Native Village of Eyak Tribal Court office by 5:00pm Alaska time on March 1, 2018.

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians

Evaluator, Family Healing to Wellness Court, Peshawbestown, M.I. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians is soliciting contractual-service proposals for an Evaluator to work in the Family Healing to Wellness Court under the court’s grant. The contractual services will start upon completion of contract negotiations and end on Sep. 30, 2019. Proposals will be accepted until 5:00pm EST on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

Advocates for the West

Staff Attorney, Boise, I.D. Advocates for the West is a non-profit, public interest environmental law firm based in Boise. Currently, the firm is looking for a passionate and talented attorney to advocate for wild salmon and steelhead in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. The Staff Attorney position has initial funding for two years, and Advocates for the West is looking for an attorney with one to five years of prior litigation experience.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Prosecutor, Mount Pleasant, M.I. The Prosecutor will work closely with tribal law enforcement and judicial officials to effectively administer justice on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Reservation, prosecute crimes committed by Native Americans within the exterior boundaries of the Isabella Reservation, and act as Tribal Presenter in Child Abuse and Neglect cases.

Tribal Historic Preservation Office

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Shelbyville, M.I. The Tribal Historic Preservation Office is looking for a Preservation Officer to oversee and ensure the preservation, protection, and management of ancestors, sacred objects, archaeological sites, properties/traditional cultural places, and archives significant to Pottawatomi history and culture.

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Deputy Prosecutor, Fountain Hills, A.Z. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is looking for a Deputy Prosecutor to represent the Nation in all criminal, juvenile, dependency, and/or comparable actions. Applicants must be members of the State Bar of Arizona and have three years of responsible experience in criminal prosecution or defense of criminal cases. Applications close on March 8, 2018.

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Update)

Student Clerkship and Internship, Harbor Springs, M.I. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) Tribal Court is seeking two summer law clerks, one paid and one funded through your school or other external sources.  The Tribal Court is a court of general jurisdiction hearing cases including, but not limited to: criminal, civil, drug court, domestic violence, eviction and children’s cases. Please email cover letters and resumes to Jody Gasco,

Other announcement(s) posted to Turtle Talk this week: Program Coordinator for NAICJA

Last week’s announcements: Feb. 16, 2018.

Associate Attorney Opening with Earthjustice in Seattle

Link to job announcement here.

“The Northwest Office opened in 1987 to enable Earthjustice to take a more active role in preserving the unique natural resources and environment of the Pacific Northwest. Since that time, the Northwest office has undertaken campaigns to protect old growth forests, promote salmon recovery, improve water quality, protect Puget Sound and the communities that depend on it, stop coal-fired power plants, protect farmworkers and their families from pesticides, and respond to climate change, among other things.”

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.

Continue reading

Elizabeth Warner on Tribal Environmental Law

Elizabeth Warner has posted “Examining Tribal Environmental Law” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Federal environmental law recently celebrated its 40th birthday and much has been said about it in the past four decades. Today, however, little is said about the role the third sovereign, tribal nations, plays in the development of environmental law. Although some scholarship exists regarding the development of tribal environmental law, little is known about the extent to which tribes nationwide have enacted such laws. This article fills that vacuum by taking a first look at how tribal environmental law has developed and exploring the laws of one tribal nation that has enacted several environmental laws. The article also begins the discussion of what may be normative practices in the development of tribal environmental law.

Where the federal government has not pre-empted them, tribes may develop their own tribal environmental laws. The time has never been better for an examination of tribal environmental laws. From a historical perspective, Indian country has been the location of substantial environmental contamination. Today, Indian country possesses a substantial potential for natural resource development. Additionally, two recently enacted federal laws, the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act of 2005 (specifically the Tribal Energy Resource Agreement or TERA provisions) and the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act (HEARTH Act), may spur development of tribal environmental laws. To take advantage of “streamlined” development provisions under both the TERA provisions and HEARTH Act, tribes must develop certain environmental review provisions. These factors in combination with the fact that the environment plays an important cultural and spiritual role for many tribal communities mean that now is an optimum time to consider tribal environmental law.

To start this important discussion on existing tribal environmental law, the article begins in Part II with an introduction to environmental law that is applicable in Indian country, establishing a foundation from which to explore the development of tribal environmental law. Next, in Part III, the article examines facts that may drive the development of tribal environmental law today. In addition to the fact that many tribes have historically faced substantial environmental contamination, modern factors likely to impact most tribal nations include the promotion of tribal sovereignty and also the need to respond to emerging environmental concerns. The article next describes and classifies the laws of 74 federally recognized tribes, highlighting environmental laws the tribes have enacted. This portion of the article concludes that a significant number of federally recognized tribes have no publically available tribal environmental laws. In light of this finding, Part V examines the existing laws of one tribal nation, the Navajo Nation, which has actively developed its tribal environmental laws. Moreover, Part V also begins the discussion of what may be norms for the development of tribal environmental law in the future. In this regard, this article establishes the foundation for the development of a robust examination of tribal environmental law.