Talking Tribal Environmental Issues: A 2018 Indian Law Conference Recap - Davis Law Office

Talking Tribal Environmental Issues: A 2018 Indian Law Conference Recap

Talking Tribal Environmental Issues: A 2018 Indian Law Conference Recap

On May 4, I spoke at the MinnCLE/MAIBA 2018 Indian Law Conference at the Mystic Lake Casino (owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community) in Minnesota.

This longstanding annual CLE is put on by one of the nation’s oldest Native bar associations, and it draws lawyers, tribal leaders, and others from not just Minnesota, but the rest of the country.

My panel, “Tribal Environmental Issues,” was moderated by Professor Colette Routel of Mitchell Hamline Law School in St. Paul and covered a wide variety of current tribal environmental issues in the Upper Midwest. Co-presenter Becky Rom (Save the Boundary Waters) discussed the risks of proposed sulfide mining projects in northern Minnesota (including Twin Metals and PolyMet) and her organization’s ongoing collaboration with tribes. Kekek Stark (General Counsel for the Lac Courtes Oreilles Band in Wisconsin) presented a comprehensive overview of reserved, tribal hunting, fishing, and gathering rights under 1837, 1842, and 1854 Ojibwe Treaties, which together cover millions of square miles of lands and waters in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

In our discussion, I covered the increasing trend over the last 10 years of Minnesota tribes intervening in state permitting proceedings in order to have their voices heard on large projects with potential to impact off-reservation hunting, fishing, and gathering resources, as well as tribal historic sites. I also gave an up-to-the-minute report on the sharply-contested Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project, which proposes the construction of a new, 36-inch crude oil pipeline across the entirety of northern Minnesota. Later this month, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will take up the ultimate question of whether to grant the company a Certificate of Need, and if it does so, then the question of what route should be permitted under the Route Permit. Their decision on these matters should be announced no later than June 27. After it is published, parties will have an opportunity to appeal to the state Court of Appeals for review of the decision.

For more information about DLO’s Tribal Practice, including Indian country environmental work, check out my bio here. And holler with any questions!

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