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Steve Sachs

Environmental Developments

      Nika Knight, " Rising Tide of 'Politically Acceptable' Killings Spells Danger for Environmentalists Worldwide: More than three people were slain each week in 2015 for 'protecting the land, forests, and rivers,' a new report reveals," Common Dreams , Monday, June 20, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/20/rising-tide-politically-acceptable-killings-spells-danger-environmentalists, reported, " Environmental activists are being murdered for their work in record numbers, a new report finds, as 2015 saw a stunning 185 people killed—more than three people each week—for resisting destructive industries and the exploitation of land and water.

      'It is necessary to defend the land, for us the poor people, because the land is our own bank. If we lose it we have lost the world.'

      —Sima Mattia, Malen Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) of Sierra Leone

     The report (pdf) from U.K.-based human rights group Global Witness, titled 'On Dangerous Ground,' found that '[a]s demand for products like timber, minerals and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are exploiting land with little regard for the people who live on it.'

     'Increasingly, communities that take a stand are finding themselves in the firing line of companies' private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers,' wrote the rights group.

     The 2015 death toll marked a 59 percent increase from 2014, and represented more than double the number of journalists killed for their work that same year.

      Mining and extractive industries were linked to the highest number of deaths, at 42.


     Killings by country in 2015. (Image: Global Witness)

      The deadliest countries for land defenders were Brazil (50 murders), the Philippines (33), and Colombia (29). Of the total, 67 victims were Indigenous people.

     Global Witness also noted that because of the remote location of many of these vulnerable communities, the numbers presented in the report are likely an underestimation of the true global tally of activist deaths.

      'For every killing we are able to document,' the group wrote, 'others cannot be verified, or go unreported. And for every life lost, many more are blighted by ongoing violence, threats and discrimination.'

     The report includes numerous first-hand accounts from activists threatened with violence because of their work.

     'On September 1, at around 3am, the killers came," Michelle Campos, land defender in the Philippines, told her story to Global Witness. "They woke the people up and forced them to gather in the basketball court. They prevented Tatay Emok from leaving… tied his hands and feet, slit his throat, shot his chest, and left him dead. They told us to leave our community in two days or else they will finish us all.'

      'On September 1, at around 3am, the killers came. They woke the people up and forced them to gather in the basketball court. They prevented Tatay Emok from leaving… tied his hands and feet, slit his throat, shot his chest, and left him dead. They told us to leave our community in two days or else they will finish us all.' —Michelle Campos, land defender in the Philippines

      Justice for the victims is scarce, Global Witness observed: 'Across the world, collusion between state and corporate interests shield many of those responsible for the killings. In cases that are well documented we found 16 were related to paramilitary groups, 13 to the army, 11 to the police and 11 to private security—strongly implying state or company links to the killings. There was little evidence that the authorities either fully investigated the crimes, or took actions to bring the perpetrators to account.'
Moreover, the organization discovered another alarming trend: 'while impunity for perpetrators prevails," Global Witness wrote, "the criminalization of activists is becoming more commonplace, particularly in African countries. Governments and powerful business interests use their influence to marginalize defenders and turn public opinion against them, branding their actions as 'anti-development.'"
'Killing has become politically acceptable to achieve economic goals,' the report quoted Felipe Milanez, former deputy editor of National Geographic Brazil, as saying. 'I've never seen, working for the past 10 years in the Amazon, a situation so bad.'
The report was dedicated to Berta Cáceres, the Indigenous environmental activist in Honduras who organized her community against a proposed megadam project and was assassinated in March, a killing widely believed to be politically motivated. Her family and supporters have called for an independent investigation into her death, but their demands have thus far fallen on deaf ears.
Yet so many environment and land defenders, despite the mounting danger, are committed to their cause.
'It is necessary to defend the land, for us the poor people, because the land is our own bank. If we lose it we have lost the world,' said Sima Mattia, secretary of the Malen Land Owners and Users Association (MALOA) of Sierra Leone.
Global Witness called on the international community to combat the rising bloodshed, observing that '[p ]rotecting land and environmental defenders is vital—not only as a matter of justice and basic human rights, but for our collective survival'."

      Nadia Prupis, " 'Game Over' for Climate? Report Warns Warming Is Still Underestimated: Researchers say "business as usual" could actually put planet on track for 4.78°C to 7.36°C rise by 2100," Common Dreams , November 10, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/11/10/game-over-climate-report-warns-warming-still-underestimated, reported, "
Greenhouse gases are rising so fast that it could soon be "game over" for the climate, a leading scientist warned in response to a new study published Wednesday that finds the planet could be heading for more than 7°C warming within a lifetime.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, reported that the United Nations' most accurate estimates on the "business as usual" rate of global warming may actually be vastly underestimated.
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently estimated that continuing to use fossil fuels at current rates would put the Earth on track for an average temperature rise of 2.6°C to 4.8°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
But the authors, a team of climate researchers and scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Washington, the University of Albany, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, say the range for that same time period is actually 4.78°C to 7.36°C. That's because the climate has "substantially higher sensitivity" to greenhouse gases during warm phases, they write—which ultimately means that "within the 21st century, global mean temperatures will very likely exceed maximum levels reconstructed for the last 784,000 years."
The results correspond with other recent data that finds, despite all the pledges made in the landmark Paris climate agreement, the planet is still on track for at least a 3°C global temperature rise. Scientists have long warned that catastrophic, irreversible damage would come at 2°C.
President-elect Donald Trump, who has denied that climate change exists, has vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement, and his transition team is rife with fellow deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists. Green groups on Wednesday reacted to his win by calling on people around the world to mobilize against his anti-environmental policies 'for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world and for all future generations.'
Professor Michael Mann of Penn State University told the Independent that the study 'does indeed provide support for the notion that a Donald Trump presidency could be game over for the climate.'
'By 'game over for the climate,' I mean game over for stabilizing warming below dangerous (i.e. greater than 2°C) levels,' he wrote in an email to the outlet. ' If Trump makes good on his promises, and the U.S. pulls out of the Paris [climate] treaty, it is difficult to see a path forward to keeping warming below those levels.'
Dr. Tobias Friedrich, one of the authors, said, 'Our results imply that the Earth's sensitivity to variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide increases as the climate warms. Currently, our planet is in a warm phase—an interglacial period—and the associated increased climate sensitivity needs to be taken into account for future projections of warming induced by human activities.'
' The only way out is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,' he said."

      Lauren McCauley, " Forget Paris, Scientists Say 'Radical Change' Only Way to Stay Below 2 Degrees: Study by former IPCC chair comes amid rash of new research, all predicting the Earth will soon blow by key global warming thresholds," Common Dreams , September 30, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/30/forget-paris-scientists-say-radical-change-only-way-stay-below-2-degrees, "To much fanfare, global leaders have agreed to tackle the climate crisis by ratifying the Paris climate agreement, but a group of esteemed scientists is warning that current pledges to reduce emissions are far from sufficient and, in fact, put the world on track to reaching the dangerous 2°C climate threshold by 2050.
' The pledges are not going to get even close,' said Sir Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and lead author of a new report out Thursday. 'If you governments of the world are really serious, you're going to have to do way, way more.'
Aptly titled The Truth About Climate Change , the report, put forth by the Argentina-based Universal Ecological Fund (Fundación Ecológica Universal FEU-US), comes amid a rash of new research, all suggesting that key global warming thresholds will be reached much more rapidly than previously thought.
Led by Watson, the team examined the climate commitments, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), put forth by COP21 signatories and concluded that the delayed commitment to climate action has essentially eliminated the possibility to keeping the Earth's temperature increase beneath 1.5°C.
The report states:
' [T]he 1.5°C target has almost certainly already been missed because of the lack of action to stop the increase in global GHG emissions for the last 20 years. Global average temperature has already reached 1°C above pre-industrial times in 2015, as reported by the World Meteorological Organization. This is a significant increase, compared to the 0.85°C above pre-industrial times in 2012 reported by the IPCC. An additional warming of 0.4-0.5°C is expected as a consequence of GHGs that have already been emitted. This additional increase in global temperature is due to the slow response of the ocean-atmosphere system to the increased atmospheric concentrations of GHGs.
Global GHG emissions are not projected to decrease fast enough, even if all the pledges are fully implemented. Full implementation of the pledges will require the promised US$100 billion per year in financial assistance for developing countries to be realized. As a result, the 1.5°C target could be reached by the early 2030s and the 2°C target by 2050.'
Further, the researchers minced no words when laying the blame for the missed targets on 'political and sectorial interests, including those 'benefiting from the use of fossil fuels,' for promoting 'deliberate misinformation' about the current situation.'
Thursday's study, which came just one day before European leaders agreed on a fast-track, joint ratification of the Paris accord, concludes with a call for nations to 'rais[e] the ambition of the INDCs' and commit to 'a radical change in the way the world produces and uses energy.'
Much like the landmark report published last week by fossil fuel watchdog Oil Change International, the latest findings leave no room for future emissions or new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Even as the commitments stand, scientists predict that U.S. will miss its target for 2025 if 'fundamental changes' are not made.
In the past week, two separate reports have warned that the planet will likely pass the 1.5ºC benchmark this decade and, under current emissions projections, is 'locked in' to reaching a 2 million-year temperature record .
With 2016 on track to set another heat record, the wave of research comes as the planet reached another grave milestone: atmospheric carbon has permanently surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm).
Appearing on Democracy Now! on Friday, author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben reiterated his call for a World War II-scale mobilization to combat the global warming 'siege.'
'If we're going to have a chance of dealing with climate change, it means mobilizing in ways that we haven't in a very long time,' he continued:
In this case, it's not that we need to go to war with climate change, it's that we’re under siege. I mean, by all the measures by which one thinks about warfare, we're in one. We're losing territory all the time. I mean, there are literally islands disappearing. You know, we've lost huge swaths of the coral in the world this year alone. A wave of warm water swept across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. In many places, 80, 90 percent of coral died in a matter of weeks, these atolls that have been there forever in the Arctic. You know, ice that's been there for millennia upon millennia is now gone. I mean, the world looks entirely different from a satellite now than it did 30 years ago.
So, the question is not whether or not we're in a conflict. The question is whether or not we’re going to fight it, or whether we’re going to keep listening to the Exxons of the world and do nothing.
According to the cumulative research, that's not a viable option."

     Previously, in what may already be an out dated finding, to the extent it does not conform with the just above findings, Lauren McCauley, " The New, New Climate Math: 17 Years to Get Off Fossil Fuels, Or Else: 'If you're in a hole, stop digging'," Common Dreams, September 22, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/22/new-new-climate-math-17-years-get-fossil-fuels-or-else, reported, " Though it may not have seemed possible, climate catastrophe is even closer than previously thought, with new figures released Thursday finding that—when the wells already drilled, pits dug, and pipelines built, are taken under consideration—we are well on our way to going beyond 2°C of warming.
"If you're in a hole, stop digging," begins the study, put forth by the fossil fuel watchdog Oil Change International (OCI), in partnership with 14 other environmental organizations.
The report, The Sky's Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production (pdf), calculates the potential carbon emissions for already developed reserves and transportation projects, such as oil wells, tar pits, pipelines, processing facilities, railways, and exports terminals.
The findings are bleak: 'The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world's currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming,' the study confirms. 'The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.'
'In other words," campaigner Bill McKibben wrote at the The New Republic on Thursday, 'if our goal is to keep the Earth's temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here's the answer: zero."
Similarly, the researchers state unequivocally, 'No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them."
As the researchers note, the stark new figures 'scientifically groun[d] the growing movement to keep carbon in the ground.' The report comes at the same time that environmentalists and Indigenous activists, in North Dakota and elsewhere, are literally risking their bodies to fight oil pipeline expansion, while campaigners across the U.S. dog the federal government for continuing to lease public lands for oil and gas drilling.
T'he time for "expanding the fossil fuel frontier" is over, McKibben states.
The author and co-founder of 350.org compares OCI's findings to his seminal 2012 essay on the "terrifying math" of climate change, which argued that untapped fossil fuel reserves contained five times more carbon than feasible to burn to stay beneath the 2°C threshold, and concludes that "the new new math is even more explosive."
OCI reportedly paid a hefty $54,000 for industry data from Rystad Energy, a leading oil and gas consultancy, and compares it against carbon budgets derived from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In addition to OCI, the report was produced in collaboration with 350.org as well as Amazon Watch, the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Bold Alliance, Christian Aid, Earthworks, Équiterre, Global Catholic Climate Movement, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Indigenous Environmental Network, IndyAct, Rainforest Action Network, and Stand.earth.
Report author Greg Muttitt explained that while previous studies only focused on the burning of fossil fuels, this analysis also factored in what carbon budgets and existing extraction operations mean for the supply of those energy sources. 'Once an extraction operation is underway, it creates an incentive to continue so as to recoup investment and create profit, ensuring the product—the fossil fuels—are extracted and burned. These incentives are powerful, and the industry will do whatever it takes to protect their investments and keep drilling,' he said. 'This is how carbon gets 'locked-in.''
In short, even if a government says it wants to reduce the use of fossil fuels, as long as it keeps approving new infrastructure, carbon will be emitted.
Or as McKibben put it, 'It's not that if we keep eating like this for a few more decades we'll be morbidly obese. It's that if we eat what's already in the refrigerator we'll be morbidly obese.'
McKibben goes on to calculate some of this 'new new" math:
In the United States alone, the existing mines and oil wells and gas fields contain 86 billion tons of carbon emissions—enough to take us 25 percent of the way to a 1.5 degree rise in global temperature. But if the U.S. energy industry gets its way and develops all the oil wells and fracking sites that are currently planned, that would add another 51 billion tons in carbon emissions. And if we let that happen, America would single-handedly blow almost 40 percent of the world's carbon budget.
'If the world is serious about achieving the goals agreed in Paris, governments have to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry,' said OCI executive director Stephen Kretzmann. 'The industry has enough carbon in the pipeline—today—to break through the sky's limit.'
In addition to halting all new infrastructure projects, the report also recommends that 'some fields and mines—primarily in rich countries—should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries.'
' This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight,' the researchers continue. "Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.'
Given OCI's assessment that, 'If you let current fields begin their natural decline, you'll be using 50 percent less oil by 2033,' McKibben estimates that the world has 17 years to replace current fossil fuel infrastructure with renewable energy.
'That's enough time—maybe—to replace gas guzzlers with electric cars. To retrain pipeline workers and coal miners to build solar panels and wind turbines.'
'This is literally a math test," he concludes, 'and it's not being graded on a curve. It only has one correct answer. And if we don't get it right, then all of us—along with our 10,000-year-old experiment in human civilization—will fail.'"

     Henry Fountain, "Global Temperatures Are on Course for Another Record This Year," The New York Times, July 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/20/science/nasa-global-temperatures-2016.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0," world is on pace to set another high temperature benchmark, with 2016 becoming the third year in a row of record heat.
NASA scientists announced on Tuesday that global temperatures so far this year were much higher than in the first half of 2015.
Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said that while the first six months of 2015 made it the hottest half-year ever recorded, '2016 really has blown that out of the water.'
He said calculations showed there was a 99 percent probability that the full year would be hotter than 2015."

       Nika Knight, " Scorching Global Temps Astound Climate Scientists: As wildfire rages in California, flooding affects millions in India and China, and eggs are fried on sidewalks in Iraq, scientists say global climate catastrophe is surpassing predictions," Common Dreams , July 27, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/27/scorching-global-temps-astound-climate-scientists, reported, " Record global heat in the first half of 2016 has caught climate scientists off-guard, reports Thompson Reuters Foundation.
'What concerns me most is that we didn't anticipate these temperature jumps,' David Carlson, director of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) climate research program, told Thompson Reuters Foundation late Monday. 'We predicted moderate warmth for 2016, but nothing like the temperature rises we've seen.'
'Massive temperature hikes, but also extreme events like floodings, have become the new normal,' Carlson added. 'The ice melt rates recorded in the first half of 2016, for example—we don't usually see those until later in the year.'
Indeed , extreme weather events are currently wreaking havoc around the world.
In Southern California, firefighters are battling one of the " most extreme " fires the region has ever seen. The so-called sand fire had consumed 38,346 acres as of Wednesday morning and forced the evacuations of 10,000 homes, and one person has died.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus reported on the unusual fire last Friday in Pacific Standard:
The fire, which started as a small brush fire along the side of Highway 14 near Santa Clarita, California, on Friday, quickly spread out of control under weather conditions that were nearly ideal for explosive growth. The fire doubled in size overnight on Friday, and then doubled again during the day on Saturday.
'The fire behavior was some of the most extreme I've seen in the Los Angeles area in my career,' says Stuart Palley, a wildfire photographer based in Southern California. 'The fire was running all over the place. … It was incredible to see."' There were multiple reports of flames 50 to 100 feet high on Saturday, which is unusual for fires in the region.
Time-lapse footage filmed on July 23 showed the fire's tall flames and rapid
'Since late 2011," Holthaus explained, 'Los Angeles County has missed out on about three years' worth of rain. Simply put: Extreme weather and climate conditions have helped produce this fire's extreme behavior.'
The fire is an omen of things to come, according to Holthaus: " Even if rainfall amounts don't change in the future, drought and wildfire severity likely will because warmer temperatures are more efficient at evaporating what little moisture does fall. That, according to scientists, means California's risk of a mega-drought spanning decades or more is, or will be soon, the highest it's been in millennia.'
As University of California professor Anthony LeRoy Westerling wrote Tuesday in the Guardian: 'A changing climate is transforming our landscape, and fire is one of the tools it uses. Expect to see more of it, in more places, as temperatures rise.'
Meanwhile, in India's northeast, Reuters reported Tuesday that over 1.2 million people 'have been hit by floods which have submerged hundreds of villages, inundated large swathes of farmland and damaged roads, bridges and telecommunications services, local authorities said on Tuesday.'
Reuters added that nearly 90,000 people are currently being housed in 220 relief camps.
'Incessant monsoon rains in the tea and oil-rich state of Assam have forced the burgeoning Brahmaputra river and its tributaries to burst their banks—affecting more than half of the region's 32 districts,' the wire service reported.
Local officials also told the media that 'more than 60 percent of region's famed Kaziranga National Park, home to two-thirds of the world's endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, is also under water, leaving the animals more vulnerable to poaching.'
An unusually heavy monsoon season has also devastated communities in northern China, AFP reported Monday, with nearly 300 dead or missing and hundreds of thousands displaced after catastrophic flooding hit the region.
And in Iraq, temperatures last week reached such unprecedented heights that a chef literally fried an egg on the sidewalk. The TODAY show tweeted footage of the incident:
Stateside, the heat dome continues to inflict scorching summer temperatures across the country. In one Arizona locale, for example, meteorologists are predicting a scorching high temperature on Wednesday of 114° Fahrenheit. One Arizona resident posted a video Tuesday desperately asking people to pray for the state as it faces more hot weather. 'It is still six billion degrees,' the resident lamented. "Lord, we need you."
Yet there appears to be little relief in sight: for the first time ever, USA Today reported Tuesday, the U.S. federal government's climate prediction center is forecasting hotter-than-normal temperatures for the next three months for 'every square inch' of the country."

       Deirdre Fulton, " 'Climate Change Is Here': August Was Another Hottest Month for the Record Books: As one climate scientist noted, the temperature has risen even though this year's unusually strong El Niño is on the wane," Common Dreams , September 12, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/12/climate-change-here-august-was-another-hottest-month-record-books, reported "Another month, another temperature record shattered.
NASA data released Monday shows not only that last month was the hottest August since record-keeping started in 1880, but that it tied with July for the warmest month in the last 136 years.
According to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, August 2016's temperature was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest August in 2014. Last month also was 0.98 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980.
Notably, NASA points out, 'the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July.'
But recent months have been anything but typical. 'The record warm August continued a streak of 11 consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records,' NASA said in a press release.
What's more, climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf pointed out on Twitter, the temperature has risen even though this year's unusually strong El Niño is on the wane.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release its own August figures later this month.
Regardless, Mary Beth Griggs wrote for Popular Science, 'this heat streak continues to put 2016 in the running to be be the hottest year since 2015, which broke the record set by 2014.'
And while the endless string of 'hottest months' may induce fatigue among some observers, Astrid Caldas of the Union of Concerned Scientists explains in a blog post on Monday why the string of broken records is still 'big news.'
'While there may be a tendency to be complacent about the recurring record temperatures, with each month come more climate-related consequences that cannot be ignored, and they make for big news stories,' Caldas writes. ' From wildfires and droughts to devastating floods, climate change fingerprint is all around us and does play a role in making events more extreme . An example are the recent Louisiana floods, caused by intense rains which, according to the science of attribution, were at least 40% more likely to happen because of climate change.'
" Climate change is here, its effects are being already felt in a variety of ways...and we do not need to wait years or decades to see its effects," she says. " We should heed the warnings and act now, investing in preparedness and emissions reductions, so as to minimize possible added (and maybe worse) future risks and impacts.'"

       Lauren McCauley, "The Earth Just Experienced the Hottest Month on the Books, Period: Plus, scientists say there's a '99 percent chance of a new annual record in 2016,'" Common Dreams , Monday, August 15, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/15/earth-just-experienced-hottest-month-books-period, reported, On Monday it was confirmed that the Earth has broken an ominous climate milestone amid a wave of troubling records: July 2016 was the hottest recorded month—ever.
According to new NASA data, the global mean surface temperatures last month were 0.84° Celsius (1.51° Fahrenheit) above average and was the warmest July in their data set, which dates back to 1880.
This marks the 10th straight month to set a new monthly warming record, based on NASA's analysis. "Every month so far this year has been record hot," reported Climate Central's Andrea Thompson. 'In NASA's data, that streak goes back to October 2015, which was the first month in its data set that was more than 1C hotter than average.'
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases its monthly temperature report on Wednesday and it is likely theirs will reflect a 15-month streak of record-shattering heat. (Some previous reporting on monthly records here, here, here, and here.)
What's more, because July is typically the hottest month of the year, it stands that July 2016 was "the warmest month of any in a data record that can be extended back to the nineteenth century," according to the U.K.-based Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS), which last week published similar temperature results.
CCCS explained:
Global temperature usually peaks in July, when the land masses of the northern hemisphere are on average at their warmest. It varies by more than 3° C over the course of each year. The largest recent deviation from this annual cycle occurred in February this year, but July was still more than 0.5° C warmer than the 1981-2010 average for the month. This made July 2016 the warmest month of any in a data record that can be extended back to the nineteenth century.
'These record breaking extremes are the result of a cocktail of weather phenomenon and human activity,' said CCCS head Jean-Noël Thépaut. 'There are higher than average temperatures over the vast majority of land and sea masses.'
Referencing the wildfires , heat-waves , marine ' hot blobs ,' and other extreme weather events currently ravaging the planet and its inhabitants, Thépaut adds: 'We're already seeing the human cost of hotter conditions.'
The year 2015 was declared the hottest on record and scientists have said that 2016 will likely be even hotter. Announcing NASA's July data, climate scientist Gavin Schmidt had this to say about the likelihood of another record-smashing year:
July data are out, and what do you know, still 99% chance of a new annual record in 2016."

      Nadia Prupis, " Point of No Return: Earth Reaches 400ppm Threshold Permanently: Scientists say it is 'almost impossible' that carbon dioxide output will drop below symbolic milestone in our lifetimes," Common Dreams, September 29, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/29/point-no-return-earth-reaches-400ppm-threshold-permanently, reported, " September's carbon dioxide output failed to drop below 400 parts per million (ppm) despite historically being the year's low point for CO2 emissions, which means the Earth has very likely passed that symbolic climate threshold forever.
The Earth has hit 400ppm before, but seasonal cycles have always reduced carbon dioxide output back below that level. Now, climate scientists say it is 'almost impossible' that will ever happen again.
According to Climate Central:
September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world's marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm.
'Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible," scientist Ralph Keeling, who runs the carbon dioxide monitoring program at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography, wrote in a blog post this week. 'Brief excursions towards lower values are still possible but it already seems safe to conclude that we won't be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year—or ever again for the indefinite future.'
Climate Central continues:
We may get a day or two reprieve in the next month, similar to August when Tropical Storm Madeline blew by Hawaii and knocked carbon dioxide below 400 ppm for a day. But otherwise, we're living in a 400 ppm world. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come.
'At best (in that scenario), one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn't change much—but would start to fall off in a decade or so,' Gavin Schmidt, NASA's chief climate scientist, said in an email. /In my opinion, we won't ever see a month below 400 ppm.
The confirmation comes soon after a report from the U.K. Met Office in June warned that the planet was well on its way toward that grim milestone as the impact from rising fossil fuel emissions was worsened by a turbulent El Niño event. Similar predictions came in May as climate scientists cautioned the limit could be hit at any time.
Another recent report also found that the planet could pass another point of no return—the agreed-upon 1.5°C warming threshold—in a decade."

     Nika Knight, "Methane Emissions Are Soaring, Report Finds, and Agriculture Is to Blame: Research suggests agriculture is the main culprit for recent rapid increase in atmospheric methane—a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide," Common Dreams , December 12, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/12/12/methane-emissions-are-soaring-report-finds-and-agriculture-blame, reported, Mere months after atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently surpassed a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, scientists have more bad news: emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—and show no sign of slowing.
That's according to a new analysis published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The report, The Growing Role of Methane in Anthropogenic Climate Change, finds that 'methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015,' observes Phys.org.

(Image: NOAA)
Methane is 28 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun, making its short-term effects on global warming far more severe.
Agence France-Press reports that 'the pace of recent [methane] emissions aligns with the most pessimistic scenarios laid out by the U.N.'s top science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.'
Indeed, the rising rate of methane emissions poses a threat to ambitious global goals to limit warming to 1.5ºC by 2100, as laid out in the Paris climate accord, experts note. And the current rise of 1ºC over preindustrial levels is already resulting in extreme weather and widespread extinctions .
When looking for the source of the rapid increase, the authors of the paper take note of the global rise in fossil fuel extraction—such as the fracking boom in the U.S. and the growing coal industry in China—as one culprit, but they concluded that the research mainly finds the agricultural sector to blame for the methane spike.
'We think agriculture is the number one contributor to the increase,' Rob Jackson, an earth scientist at Stanford University who co-wrote the study, told the Washington Post, which adds:
Jackson said some of the rise is 'almost certainly' coming from livestock and specifically cattle, and also pointed to rice paddies, landfills, and the management of manure in agriculture.
'According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,' reports Phys.org, 'livestock operations around the world expanded from producing 1,300 million head of cattle in 1994 to nearly 1,500 million in 2014—with a similar increase in rice cultivation in many Asian countries.'
The report's authors suggest renewed efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, which other recent research supports as a critical tactic in the fight to mitigate climate change.
'When it comes to methane, there has been a lot of focus on the fossil fuel industry, but we need to look just as hard if not harder at agriculture,' Jackson told Phys.org. 'The situation certainly isn't hopeless. It's a real opportunity.'"

      Global warming is profoundly changing the ecology of the Arctic Ocean food chain. Specific changes have been noted, but it is too early for scientists to predict what the long term result will be. From 1997 to 2015, the production of algae, the base of the food chain, increased by 47%, while the ocean has been increasingly greening up earlier in the year (Carl Zimmer, "Warming Alters Arctic Food Chain From the Bottom Up, Scientists Say," The New York Times, November 23, 2016).

     Justin Gillis, "Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun: Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical," The New York Times, September 3, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/science/flooding-of-coast-caused-by-global-warming-has-already-begun.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported that in Norfolk, VA, " Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
And another 500 miles on , in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.
Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.
Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called "sunny-day flooding" — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.
These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.
In coastal regions, that compounds the damage from the increasingly heavy rains plaguing the country, like those that recently caused extensive flooding in Louisiana. Scientists say these rains are also a consequence of human greenhouse emissions."
Lauren McCauley, " Report Shows Whopping $8.8 Trillion Climate Tab Being Left for Next Generation: Compounded by the costs associated with 'new inequality economy,' today's millennials will face an unsustainable burden," Common Dreams , August 22, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/22/report-shows-whopping-88-trillion-climate-tab-being-left-next-generation,  reported,
" 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,' is an oft-quoted proverb, frequently used to explain the importance of environmental preservation. Unsaid, however, is how much it will impact the next generation if the Earth is bequeathed in a lesser state.
Environmental campaigners NextGen Climate and public policy group Demos published a new study that attempts to quantify the true cost of not addressing climate change to the millennial generation and their children.
The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials' Economic Future (pdf) compares some of the high costs millennials will face in the 'new inequality economy'—such as student debt, child care costs, stagnant wages, as well as financial and job insecurity—against the fiscal impacts of unmitigated global warming.
'The fact is,' the report states, 'unchecked climate change will impose heavy costs on millennials and subsequent generations, both directly in the form of reduced incomes and wealth, and indirectly through likely higher tax bills as extreme weather, rising sea levels, drought, heat-related health problems, and many other climate change-related problems take their toll on our society.'
The impacts from climate costs alone, the report finds, are 'comparable to Great Depression-era losses.' The study employs a model developed by researchers from Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley that measures the effects of rising temperatures on long-term economic growth and national productivity drawing on 50 years of data from 166 countries.
The 'no climate action' scenario found that by 2100 global per capita GDP will shrink by 23 percent relative to a scenario without climate change. The U.S. is estimated to take a 5 percent hit by 2050 that jumps to 36 percent by 2100 should no climate action occur.
This adds up to a loss of nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income for millennials and tens of trillions for their children.
In comparison, the cost of climate inaction overshadows the significant losses from other economic burdens, such as student debt. The report states:
According to Demos calculations, for a median- earning college graduate with median student debt, the lifetime wealth loss due to student debt is approximately $113,000, which is 40 percent less than the $187,000 lifetime wealth loss of a college- educated, median-earning 21-year-old if we fail to act on climate change.
But when these myriad forces are stacked together, they add up to a staggering burden. The report further highlights how climate inaction only exacerbates preexisting inequality:
Communities of color and low-income communities will be hit the hardest, as these communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change [...]. Further, these same communities have always had the highest exposure to coal-burning power plants and other sources of fossil fuel pollution, with sharply negative health impacts [...]
If the transition to a clean energy economy is delayed, or if it is implemented unequally in keeping with historical patterns of racial exclusion, the fossil fuel economy will only deepen its toll on the health and well-being of America's poorest and most vulnerable communities.
What's more, the report notes, 'the economic risks are compounded even further since inaction on climate change means that we are missing out on a major opportunity for much-needed new investment and millions of new jobs by transitioning to clean energy.'
'For the millennial generation,' the study concludes, 'today's status quo on climate and inequality is not only unjust but it is also unsustainable.'
Democratic heavyweight and NextGen Climate president Tom Steyer said the report underscores the importance of the upcoming presidential election between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
'When we look at the consequences of this election, the choice between the candidates could not be more stark,' Steyer said, 'and the voice of millennial voters has never been more important.'
Sara Jordan, policy manager at NextGen Climate agreed, writing,   'Millennials have the numbers to elect climate champions this fall, but we have to show up to vote. Our future depends on it.'" - And it may be that this report is an underestimate of the costs, given all the positive feedbacks causing warming and climate change to be faster than predicted."

       Nadia Prupis,  " As Paris Treaty Hits Threshold, Climate Groups Demand Bolder Action: Calls for action come as renowned economist warns that global economy is set to "self-destruct" if the world continues burning fossil fuels," Common Dreams , October 06, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/06/paris-treaty-hits-threshold-climate-groups-demand-bolder-action, reported, " The landmark Paris climate treaty finalized last year has reached the requisite number of signatories and is set to go into effect in 30 days—but environmentalists are not planning to let world leaders simply pat themselves on the back.
The European Union on Wednesday became the latest body to sign onto the agreement, which requires nations to take measures to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5°C, a threshold which climate experts say the planet is already on track to reach.
In a televised address, U.S. President Barack Obama described the accord as 'the best possible shot to save the one planet we've got,' and said, 'If we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.'
However, the announcement comes as a slew of new studies find greenhouse gas emissions are still skyrocketing, fossil fuel use has made the world hotter than it's been in 115,000 years , and the Earth will warm 2°C or higher in a decade absent radical, systemic change . Likewise, renowned climate scientist James Hansen warned Thursday that the Paris agreement will not solve climate change.
So a broad array of watchdogs—from the environment to the business sector—say they are not going to let world leaders off the hook.
'A legally binding international climate deal is a vital step, but this is no time to stop and pat ourselves on the back. Scientists have warned that we have already passed a key threshold, and people across the globe are facing killer floods and droughts. What matters most is action now, rather than later,' said Asad Rehman, a campaigner for the U.K.-based environmental group Friends of the Earth International.
Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, associate research director at Corporate Accountability International, also said, 'The true test begins now: how will governments live up to their obligations and do their fair share?'
Wealthy countries like the U.S. 'are responsible for this crisis yet are not doing their fair share to cut emissions and support the just transition from fossil fuels,' Lawrence-Samuel said. 'And we know why—the fossil fuel industry is interfering in climate policymaking to suit its interests. A critical first step in solving the climate crisis must be protecting policymaking from fossil fuel industry interference. Parties must kick big polluters out.'
To that end, on Thursday, a major new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate called on world leaders and financial institutions to invest in sustainable infrastructure to make the renewables sector viable against fossil fuels.
'Yesterday the Paris agreement reached the required number of countries and emissions to enter into force,' said commission chair and former president of Mexico Felipe Calderón. 'We have agreed on a global climate agenda, now we should act on it. Investing in sustainable infrastructure is the wisest decision we can take for our future. Not only can it deliver on the goals of the Paris agreement it is also the best growth path forward.'
Commission member and renowned economist Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, who helped make climate change a global priority with a 2006 cost analysis, also warned Thursday that the global economy is set to 'self-destruct' if the world continues burning fossil fuels.
Investment in renewable energy 'will set off innovation, discovery, much more creative ways of doing things,' he said. "This is the story of growth, which is the only one available because any attempt at high-carbon growth would self-destruct.'"

      The governments of more than 190 nations agreed for the first time, in October 2016, to act to reduce the emissions of jet aircraft as a step to limit global warming induced climate change. This will likely lead to greater fuel efficiency for aircraft, among other measures (Henry Fountain, "Countries Agree to Climate Accord On Jet Emissions," The New York Times, October 7, 2016).

        Nika Knight, " 'Climate Emergency': North Pole Sees Record Temps, Melting Ice Despite Arctic Winter: Arctic is losing ice and heating up despite seasonal onset of 24-hour darkness—phenomena that break all previous records," Common Dreams , November 18, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/11/18/climate-emergency-north-pole-sees-record-temps-melting-ice-despite-arctic-winter, reported, "As 2016 continues on its march toward becoming the hottest year on record , the Arctic is seeing extreme warmth beyond anything previously recorded at this time of year—prompting alarm from climate scientists around the world.
'Folks, we're in a climate emergency,' tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
The temperature at the North Pole as of Thursday was a stunning 36ºF (20°C) above normal.
The bizarre heat is fueling the rapid melt of the pole's ice caps, and it is particularly unusual because it's all happening during the polar night—the time of year when the North Pole never sees the sun, observed UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain:
Other meteorologists on Twitter highlighted the abnormality of the situation:
The cause? According to the Washington Post, it's the result of an elongated jet stream propelling hot air farther north than normal—which is caused by climate change.
'The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream,' Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, told the Post.
The Washington Post continued:
Francis has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does.
'It will be fascinating to see if the stratospheric polar vortex continues to be as weak as it is now, which favors a negative Arctic Oscillation and probably a cold mid/late winter to continue over central and eastern Asia and eastern North America. The extreme behavior of the Arctic in 2016 seems to be in no hurry to quit,' Francis continued.
Another culprit is that areas of open ocean water are showing unusually hot surface temperatures, according to Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Center, who was quoted by environmental writer Hannah Waters on Twitter.
Serreze commented to the Washington Post: 'There are some areas in the Arctic Ocean that are as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average now. It's pretty crazy.'
The alarming Arctic weather happens during the United Nations climate conference in Morocco, and as environmentalists and climate scientists in the U.S. grapple with the prospect of a president-elect who denies the existence of climate change. Things are indeed not looking good for the planet, experts warn."

     David Kirby, "Climate Change Is Already Altering the World’s Gene Pool:A new study finds that a warming world is interfering with genetics, body mass, and the sex ratios of the planet’s wildlife," Takepart, November 11, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/11/11/climate-change-already-altering-our-genes?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-11-11, reported, " The dire impact of human-caused climate change on ecosystems, species, and public health is already well under way, a landmark study published Friday in the journal Science warns.
The study authors analyzed a vast array of studies showing how climate change is altering the world around us and concluded that the planet’s warming has interfered with more than 80 percent of biological processes, including genetics, body mass , sex ratios, and productivity."

The article, Brett R. Scheffers, et al, "The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people," Science, November 11, 2016, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6313/aaf7671, included:
The many observed impacts of climate change at different levels of biological organization point toward an increasingly unpredictable future for humans. Reduced genetic diversity in crops, inconsistent crop yields, decreased productivity in fisheries from reduced body size, and decreased fruit yields from fewer winter chill events threaten food security. Changes in the distribution of disease vectors alongside the emergence of novel pathogens and pests are a direct threat to human health as well as to crops, timber, and livestock resources. Humanity depends on intact, functioning ecosystems for a range of goods and services. Enhanced understanding of the observed impacts of climate change on core ecological processes is an essential first step to adapting to them and mitigating their influence on biodiversity and ecosystem service provision."

       Andrea Germanos, " New Study 'Sounds Alarm' on Another Climate Feedback Loop: 'What we know from this study is that warming will result in the loss of stored carbon in a wide variety of ecosystems—and that has potentially harmful effects in terms of future global warming,'" Common Dreams , December 26, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/12/26/new-study-sounds-alarm-another-climate-feedback-loop, reported, " The loss of Arctic sea ice has already been shown to be part of a positive feedback loop driving climate change, and a recent study published in the journal Nature puts the spotlight on what appears to be another of these feedback loops.
It has to do with soil, currently one of Earth's carbon sinks. But warming may lead to soils releasing, rather than sequestering, carbon.
As study co-author John Blair, university distinguished professor of biology at Kansas State University, explained, 'Globally, soils hold more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, so even a relatively small increase in release of carbon from the Earth's soils can have a large impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases and future warming.'
For the study, the researchers took data from over four dozen sites across the globe representing a variety of ecosystems and heated them approximately one degree Celsius.
They found that the samples from lower latitude grassland soils showed little change, but the soil samples from the colder, higher latitude ecosystems—which hold more carbon—released large amounts of carbon with the temperature increase.
The total amount of carbon lost by 2050 from these higher latitude soils could end up being the equivalent of as much as 17 percent of the expected human-caused emissions over this period, the results suggested.
The study's abstract summarizes the findings thusly:
Despite the considerable uncertainty in our estimates, the direction of the global soil carbon response is consistent across all scenarios. This provides strong empirical support for the idea that rising temperatures will stimulate the net loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere, driving a positive land carbon–climate feedback that could accelerate climate change.
According to Blair, who also directs the NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program at Kansas State's Konza Prairie Biological Station, 'This study sounds an alarm that we need to be aware of these kinds of feedbacks in order to control greenhouse gasses while they are still controllable.'
The study also directs attention to soil's climate buffering potential .
'What we know from this study is that warming will result in the loss of stored carbon in a wide variety of ecosystems—and that has potentially harmful effects in terms of future global warming,' Blair noted. 'At the same time, it also highlights the potential role that the soil could play in storing carbon and helping to mitigate climate change.'"

     Carl Zimmer, "Global Warming Alters Arctic Food Chain, Scientists Say, With Unforeseeable Results," The New York Times, November 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/science/global-warming-alters-arctic-food-chain.html?ref=todayspaper, reported,
The Arctic Ocean may seem remote and forbidding, but to birds, whales and other animals, it’s a top-notch dining destination.
'It’s a great place to get food in the summertime, so animals are flying or swimming thousands of miles to get there,' said Kevin R. Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University.
But the menu is changing. Confirming earlier research, scientists reported Wednesday that global warming is altering the ecology of the Arctic Ocean on a huge scale.
The annual production of algae, the base of the food web, increased an estimated 47 percent between 1997 and 2015, and the ocean is greening up much earlier each year.
These changes are likely to have a profound impact for animals further up the food chain, such as birds, seals, polar bears and whales. But scientists still don’t know enough about the biology of the Arctic Ocean to predict what the ecosystem will look like in decades to come.
While global warming has affected the whole planet in recent decades, nowhere has been hit harder than the Arctic. This month, temperatures in the high Arctic have been as much as 36 degrees above average , according to records kept by the Danish Meteorological Institute.  
In October, the extent of sea ice was 28.5 percent below average — the lowest for the month since scientists began keeping records in 1979. The area of missing ice is the size of Alaska and Texas put together."

        A three-month listening tour by an expert panel in Canada on rewriting environmental regulations was completed, in September 2016, aimed at realizing Prime Minister Trudeau's promise "to ensure that major projects are based on science, facts and evidence" (Lesley Evans Ogden, "Canada  aims to rewrite environmental law, Science, September 30, 2016).

     Chris Mooney, "Crack in Antarctic ice shelf grows by 11 miles; break could be imminent," Pittsburg Post Gazette, January 7, 2017 http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2017/01/07/Crack-in-Antarctic-ice-shelf-grows-by-11-miles-break-could-be-imminent/stories/201701070104, reported, " An enormous rift in one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves grew dramatically over the past several weeks, and a chunk nearly the size of Delaware could break away within months, British scientists reported this week.
If this happens , it could accelerate a further breakup of the ice shelf, essentially removing a massive cork of ice that keeps some of Antarctica’s glaciers from flowing into the ocean. The long term result, scientists project, could be to noticeably raise global sea levels by 10 centimeters, or almost 4 inches.
It’s the latest sign of major ice loss in the fast warming Antarctic Peninsula, which has already seen the breakup of two other shelves in the same region. These events have been widely attributed to climate change.
The crack in the ice shelf, known as Larsen C, been growing at an accelerating rate. Since the beginning of December, it has grown about 11 miles in length, after extending 13 miles earlier in 2016. The rift has grown about 50 miles since 2011, to a length of almost 100 miles in total, and has widened to well over 1,000 feet. Now, only 12 miles of ice continue to connect the chunk with the rest of the ice shelf.
When it breaks away, the loss would be of nearly 2,000 square miles of ice, say the researchers with Project MIDAS, a British government-funded collaboration based at Swansea and Aberystwyth universities in Wales. That’s larger than Rhode Island and almost as big as Delaware."

       A 5.7 mile long section of the Dongru Glacier in western Tibet suddenly collapsed, July 17, 2016. killing nine people below ("Rapid glacier fall a deadly mystery," Science, September 2, 2016).

      Numerous Nations at the International Climate talks in Morocco, in November 2016, reacted to the election of Donald Trump, a climate change denier, as President of the United States, by threatening to penalize the U.S. if it does not keep its Paris Accord commitments to counter global warming (Coral Davenport, "'New World Order, Sinks in At Talks on Climate Pact," The New York Times, November 16, 2016).

      To combat illegal logging, the European Union has gone into partnership with Indonesia, one of the world's largest deforesters, under a wood trading licensing program. Businesses that earn certification under the program receive expedited access to European markets ("Signs of Progress," Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2-016).

         The U.S. Department of the Interior announced, October 27, 2016, that it will auction more than 79,000 acres offshore of New York State for wind energy development ("Interior Department to Auction Over 79,000 Acres Offshore New York for Wind Energy Development," U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, October 27, 2016, www.doi.gov).

      As of late September, 2016, Costa Rica had run on 100% renewable energy, for 100 days in 2016, with 76 of those days in a row. The ecological downside may come from the high reliance on dams creating hydroelectric power ("Costa Rica: The country ran for 76 straight days on renewable energy," Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2016).

      Nika Knight, " You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet: Western States Face Decades-Long Megadroughts: If fossil fuel emissions continue as usual, droughts lasting as long as 35 years a "near certainty" in parched Western U.S. states," Common Dreams , October 06, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/06/you-aint-seen-nothing-yet-western-states-face-decades-long-megadroughts, reported, "'Megadroughts' that last for decades are threatening to strike already parched Western U.S. states by the end of the century, a new study finds, with one model predicting that a drought lasting about 35 years may be a 'near certainty.'
A megadrought would bring back the devastating dustbowl conditions of the 1930s to California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, but would last for a much longer period of time, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
'Using a combination of temperature and precipitation models,' the Guardian reports, 'the study predicts a 70 percent chance of a megadrought by the end of the century, should rainfall levels remain the same, with a 90 percent chance of an elongated drought should rainfall decrease, as most climate models forecast."
'We can't rule out there could be a 99.9 percent chance of a megadrought, which makes it virtually certain,' Toby Ault, a scientist at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told the Guardian.
'Historically, megadroughts were extremely rare phenomena occurring only once or twice per millennium,' the study observes. 'According to our analysis of modeled responses to increased [greenhouse gas emissions], these events could become commonplace if climate change goes unabated.'

A map shows the rising risk of megadraughts corresponding to varying increases in global temperatures. (Image: Science Advances)
'With 4 degrees of warming, which is the rate the planet is currently heading for, megadroughts are almost a certainty,' EcoWatch notes.
'A megadrought occurring again in the Southwest in the coming decades would impose unprecedented stresses on water resources of the region, and recent studies have shown that they are far more likely to occur this century because of climate change compared to past centuries,' write the study authors, scientists from Cornell University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Indeed, California's six-year-long drought has already changed the landscape, according to the Guardian: 'Areas of the Sierras have burned a few times and the forests aren't recruiting back, they are turning into grasslands and bush lands,' Mark Schwartz, professor of environmental science at the University of California, told the newspaper.
'Water availability is a deep issue for people living in the arid south-west,' Schwartz added. 'Megadroughts have the ability to dry up Lake Mead [which supplies water to Las Vegas] and hamper crops in southern California. We are doing a relatively poor job of allocating water efficiently. We need to get better at that.'
'The new report does proffer a crumb of hope," the Guardian writes, 'if greenhouse gas emissions are radically cut then the risk of megadrought will reduce by half, giving a roughly 50:50 chance that a multi-decade stretch of below-average rainfall would occur this century. But the research found that the emissions cuts would have to be far steeper than those agreed to by nations in Paris last year, where a 2C limit on warming was pledged.'
'We would need a much more aggressive approach than proposed at Paris,' Ault told the newspaper. 'It's not too late to do this but the train is leaving the station as we speak."

      Nika Knight, " Are Climate-Related 'Hot Blobs' Spreading and Killing Marine Life Worldwide?" Marine heatwaves have killed whales, birds, sea lions, mangroves, and coral—and research suggests they are increasing as the climate warms," Common Dreams , August 15, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/15/are-climate-related-hot-blobs-spreading-and-killing-marine-life-worldwide,   reported, " A massive swath of hot water off the West Coast of North America devastated marine life for years—killing sea lions , whales, starfish, birds, and more—and new research finds that such marine heatwaves are growing more and more frequent.
Michael Slezak in the Guardian and Craig Welch in National Geographic this weekend both published in-depth explorations of the unprecedented phenomenon.
It is indeed a new problem, a result of a rapidly warming climate: a marine heatwave had never been formally recorded until the past few years and the term wasn't even coined until 2011, Slezak reported.
Welch described the havoc wreaked thus far by what climatologists termed " the blob," a hot spot off the North   American Pacific coast that began in 2013:
In the past few years death had become a bigger part of life in the ocean off North America's West Coast. Millions of sea stars melted away in tide pools from Santa Barbara, California, to Sitka, Alaska, their bodies dissolving, their arms breaking free and wandering off. Hundreds of thousands of ocean-feeding seabirds tumbled dead onto beaches. Twenty times more sea lions than average starved in California. I watched scientists lift sea otter carcasses onto orange sleds as they perished in Homer—79 turned up dead there in one month. By year's end, whale deaths in the western Gulf of Alaska would hit a staggering 45. Mass fatalities can be as elemental in nature as wildfire in a lodgepole pine forest, whipping through quickly, killing off the weak and clearing the way for rebirth. But these mysterious casualties all shared one thing: They overlapped with a period when West Coast ocean waters were blowing past modern temperature records.
Slezak put it more simply: "Plague, famine, pestilence, and death was sweeping the northern Pacific Ocean between 2014 and 2015."
And while the blob appeared on the brink of disappearing in early 2016—with some scientists even declaring it dead—new research showed that it never left, and that it continues to disrupt the marine ecosystem from Alaska to Mexico.
Three other such "blobs" were detected off the coast of    Australia this year, Slezak noted, and the region's unprecedented rise in ocean temperatures spurred the death of most of the Great Barrier Reef, the wholesale killing of kelp forests that supported critical fisheries, and the worst mangrove die-off ever seen.
Global warming is the likely culprit, both Slezak and Welch noted. 'Is long-term warming somehow the puppeteer controlling things in the background?' Nate Mantua of NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, asked Welch. 'I haven't seen proof, but it's clearly a prime suspect.'
Indeed, a new body of research is focusing on determining how much—not whether—global warming will contribute to the increasing prevalence of these deadly underwater heat waves: Slezak wrote that "the big question facing researchers is if they are increasing in frequency or severity or both, as a result of global warming."
Emanuele Di Lorenzo, an oceanographer at the Georgia Institute of Technology who conducted an in-depth study of 'the blob,' warned that warming ocean temperatures have a multiplying effect, as one extreme event catalyzes several others.
'Looking at what is happening,' Slezak wrote, Di Lorenzo 'thinks climate change is increasing both the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves.' Slezak continues:
'So much so, he wonders if climate models are wrong, and underestimating the fluctuations in temperature that will occur as the globe warms.
'The real system—if you look at the observations, and this is a paper I will publish very soon—the increase in variance is much much stronger than what models are predicting,' he says. 'Maybe our models are too conservative.'"
Di Lorenzo says this sort of 'variance'—including things like heatwaves—will always be stronger in the ocean, because the ocean has a kind of 'memory' that means events build on top of each other, multiplying their effects.
That memory is a result of temperature changing much more slowly in the ocean, as well as the ocean being able to absorb more heat in general.
A climatologist recently confirmed that the frequency and duration of marine heatwaves is significantly increasing, Slezak wrote, and peer review and publication of that study is currently pending.
Di Lorenzo remarked to Slezak that ' the increasing frequency of these events is well outside of what anyone predicted.'
The mass deaths wrought by heatwaves such as the North American 'blob' are likely a harbinger of things to come, both Slezak and Welch observed. Indeed, 'the blob offers something of an analogue for future seas under climate change,' Welch noted. 'And marine life in this sea of tomorrow will look very different.'"

      Nika Knight, "Humans are Poisoning the Ocean—and It's Poisoning Us Back: New study shows deadly bacteria levels spiking in North Atlantic as ocean temperatures rise," Common Dreams, August 09, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/09/humans-are-poisoning-ocean-and-its-poisoning-us-back, reported, " It's no secret that we have trashed, poisoned, and warmed oceans at an unprecedented rate via human-caused climate change and pollution.
It seems that oceans may be paying us back in kind, according to a new study that found levels of bacteria responsible for life-threatening illnesses spiking in the North Atlantic region.
The study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) discovered that a deadly variety of bacteria known as vibrio is spreading rapidly throughout the Atlantic as a result of hotter ocean temperatures.
Marine ecologist Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, who was not involved in the research, described the shift to the Washington Post as 'an ecosystem-level effect of climate change':
What this new research does is present evidence of the increased prevalence of these bacteria over broad regions of the North Atlantic from preserved samples collected over 54 years. The prevalence of these bacteria has increased as the ocean has warmed, both as result of global warming and multi-decadal variations in ocean circulation. This trend may be caused by changes in the plankton community rather than just the temperature alone. In other words, increased prevalence may be an ecosystem-level effect of climate change.
Vibrio bacteria cause infections in humans and animals, and a growing number of people are hospitalized each year after consuming fish contaminated by the pathogen, the study notes, observing that the rapid rise in vibrio levels on the U.S. and European Atlantic coasts corresponds with the increasing number of hospitalizations for vibrio infections on both continents.
'We were able to demonstrate that there was an increase in the numbers of vibrios, probably a two or threefold increase, correlated with the increase in climate temperature, and then correlated with outbreaks of vibrio infections that have been recorded in the medical records,' said Rita Colwell, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland who is a co-author of the study, to the Post.
Colwell told the Post that the shift in vibrio bacteria numbers is just one of many enormous ecological transformations to come as a result of climate change. ' It's a disruption of the natural pattern, and it will be selecting for a number of species, and that’s the problem,' Colwell said.
'We don't just damage the oceans even as we ourselves go unaffected by the consequences of that damage,' the Post observes. 'Rather, from harm to fisheries to direct human health threats, that damage hurts us, too.'"

     The inupiat Eskimo community of Shishmaref held a special election in August to decide whether to move the village to higher ground in the face of increasing flooding, or remain in place, completing and augmenting a sea wall to increase the protection of the community (Rachel D'Oro, "Eroding Alaska village residents vote on future, whether to stay or move," NFIC, August 2016).

     Les Neuhaus, "Sewage Overflow Again Fouls Tampa Bay After Storm," The New York Times, September 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/us/sewage-overflow-again-fouls-tampa-bay-after-storm.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " When Hurricane Herminie bowled onto Florida’s Gulf Coast this month, officials in this city were confronted with a familiar problem: The hurricane and days of rain before it had overloaded St. Petersburg’s water pipes and treatment tanks so there was no room for the city’s waste.
As a result, city officials said, over the course of roughly 10 days, the St. Petersburg authorities released 136 million to 151 million gallons of partly treated raw sewage, mixed with rainwater, into Tampa Bay. Officials said they were still determining the precise amount.
It was the third time in the last 13 months that St. Petersburg had discharged significant amounts of sewage containing a variety of bacteria and contaminants into local waters. On Friday, state environmental regulators said they would be looking into how the city handled the hurricane and its efforts to fix the waste-treatment system."

        Mary Annette Pember, "Flooding in Northern Wisconsin Hits Bad River Reservation, July 14, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/flooding-in-northern-wisconsin-hits-bad-river-reservation/, reported , "Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Tuesday in the northern part of the state after storms caused flooding in eight counties. The Bad River Ojibwe reservation, located in Ashland County, has been hit hard.
Several roads on the reservation and surrounding area have been washed out."
"High water has cut off car traffic to Ashland, the main town in the region. The Bad River near Odanah broke records with a rise of 27.28 feet." A natural gas main washed out on the Bad River reservation leaving many without a means to prepare meals and some households have lost power."

        Peter H. Gleick, "Water Strategies for the Next Administration: Water policy offers opportunity for nonpartisan agreement," Science, November 4, 2016, comments that the U.S. is urgently in need of an appropriate water policy, as "Water problems directly threaten food production, fisheries, energy generation, foreign policy, public health, and international security. Access to safe, sufficient and affordable water is vital to well being and to the economy. Yet the U.S. water systems, once the envy of the world, are falling into disrepair and new threats loom." The article provides an analysis of the problem complex and how it might be approached.

        Craig S, Smith, "How a Changing Climate Is Shaping a Leaf Peeper’s Paradise," The New York Times, November  2, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/science/climate-change-leaves.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "A century ago, the flaming fall foliage in Nova Scotia would have long faded by early November. But today, some of the hills are still as nubby with color as an aunt’s embroidered pillow.
Climate change is responsible, scientists say. As the seasonal change creeps later into the year, not only here but all across the northern United States and Canada , the glorious colors will last longer, they predict — a rare instance where global warming is giving us something to look forward to."

     "Building Energy Independence: Soboba Completes First Phase of Solar Project," ICMN, July 26, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/building-energy-independence-soboba-completes-first-phase-of-solar-project/, reported, " Demonstrating the tribe’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental preservation, yesterday the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians celebrated the completion of the first phase of its solar energy project with a grand opening ceremony.
Harnessing solar power is a viable alternative to fossil fuel that will establish the tribe’s energy independence, a tribal media release states."

        Bill Vlasic, "New Rules Require Heavy-Duty Trucks to Reduce Emissions by 25% Over the Next Decade," The New York Times, August, 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/business/energy-environment/epa-truck-emission-standards.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "The Obama administration on Tuesday issued aggressive new emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks. The rules are expected to achieve better fuel efficiency and a bigger cut in pollution than the version that was first proposed last year.
Officials said the new standards would require up to a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions for big tractor-trailers over the next 10 years, and somewhat smaller improvements for delivery trucks, school buses and other large vehicles.
Over all, administration officials said the new rules would cut 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions through 2027 and represent a global benchmark for reducing vehicle-exhaust pollutants linked to climate change."

     Jennifer Medina and Matt Richtel, "California’s Emissions Goal Is a ‘Milestone’ on Climate Efforts," The New York Times, August 25, 2016, , reported, " California will extend its landmark climate change legislation to 2030, a move that climate specialists say solidifies the state’s role as a leader in the effort to curb heat-trapping emissions.
Lawmakers have passed, and Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to sign, bills requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels.
Though the governor had already set a similar goal in an executive order, the legislation will lock the goals into law. The ambitious plan targets both power plants and vehicle emissions." Unfortunately, the increase in wildfires is increasing the state's carbon pollution, while reducing the trees and other plant life which absorb CO 2."

       Brent Harris, "A Coolant That Threatens to Heat Up the Climate," The New York Times, July 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/23/opinion/a-coolant-that-threatens-to-heat-up-the-climate.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "Gases found in air-conditioners, refrigerators and aerosols are among the biggest threats to our climate. Pound for pound, these hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, can be vastly more powerful for planetary warming than carbon dioxide. World leaders are in Vienna to discuss these pollutants and should agree on a plan to quickly replace them with safer alternatives.
HFCs are on track to contribute up to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. They have become widespread following the phaseout of another refrigerant and aerosol propellant, chlorofluorocarbons, under a 1987 climate treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. CFCs were rapidly depleting the planet’s ozone layer, which shields Earth from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet radiation.
The treaty has been enormously successful. Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, has called it "perhaps the single most successful international agreement." Every member of the United Nations has ratified the protocol, and atmospheric concentrations of CFCs have begun to decrease. But the protocol’s exclusive focus on stopping ozone depletion left a loophole. Industry swapped CFCs for HFCs, resulting in a 258 percent increase in the use of heat-trapping HFCs since 1990."

       Henry Fountain, "Ozone Hole Shows Signs of Shrinking, Scientists Say," The New York Times, June 30, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/science/ozone-hole-shrinking-montreal-protocol.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, " Nearly three decades after the world banned chemicals that were destroying the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer, scientists said Thursday that there were signs the atmosphere was on the mend.
The researchers said they had found "fingerprints" indicating that the seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica , a cause of concern since it was discovered in 1984, was getting smaller. Although the improvement has been slight so far, it is an indication that the Montreal Protocol — the 1987 treaty signed by almost every nation that phased out the use of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons , or CFCs — is having its intended effect.
Full recovery of the ozone hole is not expected until the middle of the century."

     " Pacific Islands Nations Consider 'Pioneering' Treaty to Ban Fossil Fuels," Common Dreams , July 14, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/14/pacific-islands-nations-consider-pioneering-treaty-ban-fossil-fuels , reported, 'This is an avenue where the Pacific could again show or build on the moral and political leadership...to tackle climate change'
by Nadia Prupis, staff writer
"Pacific Island nations are reportedly considering the world's first treaty to ban fossil fuels, which would require signatories to work toward renewable energy targets and prohibit any expansion of fossil fuel mines.
The leaders of 14 nations on the front lines of climate change are considering the treaty after an annual summit in the Solomon Islands known as the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). The treaty would establish a 'Pacific framework for renewable energy' and require 'universal access' to clean energy by 2030. It would also bind leaders not to approve any new coal or other fossil fuel mines nor provide subsidies for extraction or consumption.
'They seemed convinced that this is an avenue where the Pacific could again show or build on the moral and political leadership that they've shown earlier in their efforts to tackle climate change,' PIDF climate change adviser Mahendra Kumar told the Guardian on Thursday.
The Guardian explains:
The PIDF was formed in 2013, spearheaded by Fiji, and excludes Australia and New Zealand, which are members of the older Pacific Islands Forum. There were claims at the time that Australia and New Zealand attempted to sabotage the group's first meeting.
[....] But the treaty being considered by the newer group embraces the aspirational 1.5C target set at Paris, setting mitigation targets that are in line with it, as well as establishing adaptation mechanisms to cope with the effects of that warming.
Kumar said the treaty could be adopted in 2018, though it was unlikely to happen earlier. The model treaty was crafted by the Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN). According to the Guardian, the coalition of nongovernmental organizations wrote in a report that "The rationale is that potential Parties to the Treaty already possess the political courage and commitment needed to adopt a flagship legal instrument that is sufficiently ambitious to prevent catastrophic changes in the global climate system."
As Common Dreams reported in May, five Pacific Islands that make up part of the Solomon Islands' archipelago have already been lost to rising seas and coastal erosion associated with climate change. Residents have also been forced to relocate due to encroaching waters.
In 2015, the Alliance of Small Island States, a coalition of the most vulnerable Pacific Islands nations, demanded a moratorium on new coal mines.
PICAN's report continues: 'As there is currently no treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels, the Treaty would set a pioneering example to the rest of the world.'"

        Michelle Innis, " In Shift, Australia Pledges More Resources for Climate Research," The New York Times, August 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/world/australia/climate-change-research-csiro.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "In a surprising about-face, the Australian government said on Thursday that new resources would be allocated to climate research at the country’s science agency, months after the announcement of staff cutbacks that scientists said would jeopardize Australia’s important role in the field.
The staff reduction at the agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or Csiro, had drawn stinging criticism from scientists around the world, with a petition calling its work " critical and irreplaceable" in global climate science.
Among other contributions, the agency plays a leading role in an important ocean-monitoring program called Argo, and the location of its Cape Grim research station in Tasmania makes it uniquely valuable in gauging greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The overall number of climate scientists at Csiro would rise to about 115 from 100, but that would be well short of the 140 working there before the cuts were announced in February."

     John R. Platt, "Renewable Energy Is About to Get Supersized: Investors are pouring money into supergrids, which can carry electricity generated by huge but remote wind and solar farms across national borders," takepart, October 20, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/10/20/get-ready-supergrid?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-10-20, reported, "A new report from Navigant Research finds that investment in supergrids —large-scale power networks that could carry energy from wind and solar farms and across international borders—will hit $10.2 billion by 2025. That’s up from an estimated $8.3 billion this year.
Supergrids are "about capacity and distance," said Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst for Navigant Research and one of the authors of the report. They would allow sources such as wind farms to provide energy to cities hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This would let utilities invest in massive solar or wind farms in areas where they would generate the most electricity, which might not be where people live.
They would also provide flexibility to draw electricity from different sources if on any given day the wind dies or clouds block the sun in a particular region."
"Utilities already transmit power long distances—from state to state, for example, or between Canada and the U.S.—but this would take things to a new level. One planned supergrid, now under construction, would link energy production in China, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, and Japan. The first phase of construction is estimated to cost $6.2 billion.
Much of the investment in supergrids so far—nearly 75 percent—is in Asia. China itself has driven most of that investment within its own borders."

      Deirdre Fulton, "Melting Permafrost Releases Deadly, Long-Dormant Anthrax in Siberia: 'This week's anthrax outbreak signals that global warming is transforming Siberia's lonely wilderness into a feverish nightmarescape,'" Common Dreams , August 01, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/01/melting-permafrost-releases-deadly-long-dormant-anthrax-siberia, reported, A Russian heatwave has activated long-dormant anthrax bacteria in Siberia, sickening at least 13 people and killing one boy and more than 2,300 reindeer.
According to the Siberian Times on Monday:
A total of 72 people are now in hospital, a rise of 32 since Friday, under close observation amid fears of a major outbreak. 41 of those hospitalized are children as Russia copes with a full scale health emergency above the polar circle which has also killed thousands of reindeer.
A state of emergency has been imposed throughout the region in western Siberia, and reindeer herding communities have been quarantined.
While NBC News last week pinned the blame for the outbreak on '[t]he carcass of a reindeer thought to have died from anthrax decades ago,' new reports suggest an old burial ground could be the source.
Nadezhda Noskova, press secretary of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region government, told the Siberian Times:
We are working out all the versions of what has happened. The first version is that due to the very hot weather permafrost thawed and bared the carcass of an animal which died from anthrax long ago.
The other version is that it could have been a human body. The point is that Nenets and Khanty peoples do not bury their dead in the ground.
They put them into the wooden coffins—they resemble boxes—and place them on a stand or hillock.
The old cemetery could be also the source of the disease.
But regardless of the precise culprit, there's little doubt that climate change is exacerbating the health crisis.
The Washington Post noted last week, 'Temperatures have soared in western Russia's Yamal tundra this summer,' with several regions seeing record heat. Indeed, temperatures in the Yamal tundra above the Arctic Circle have hit highs of 95°F this summer, compared to an average of 77°F.
The Post quoted two Russian researchers, who warned in 2011: 'As a consequence of permafrost melting, the vectors of deadly infections of the 18th and 19th centuries may come back...especially near the cemeteries where the victims of these infections were buried.'
"The extreme heat has triggered a seemingly endless rash of freak weather, natural disasters, and signs of ecological malaise, including enormous wildfires, record flooding, and natural moon bounces [methane bubbles] that might be explosive," staff writer Maddie Stone reported at Gizmodo. 'But above all else, this week's anthrax outbreak—the first to hit the region since 1941—signals that global warming is transforming Siberia's lonely wilderness into a feverish nightmarescape.'
Or, as Charles Pierce wrote at Esquire on Monday, 'an anthrax strain that has spent 75 years resting, sleeping a lot, going a few times a week to the Bacteria Gym, and generally muscling up, gets another chance at sickening reindeer and people because the Great Climate Change Hoax has thawed the permafrost, so it gets its shot at the reindeer and people that didn't die in the record wildfires. I would point out that one of our two major political parties doesn't believe that any of this is happening, and that the party's candidate for president thinks it all might be a hoax thought up by the Chinese'"

      Nadia Prupis, " 'Shocking,' 'Plain Stupid': Theresa May Shuts Climate Change Office," Common Dreams , July 15, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/15/shocking-plain-stupid-theresa-may-shuts-climate-change-office, reported, " Less than a day after becoming the U.K.'s unelected leader , Prime Minister Theresa May closed the government's climate change office, a move instantly condemned as 'shocking' and 'plain stupid.'
May shuttered the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on Thursday and moved responsibility for the environment to a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The decision comes the same week as the U.K. government's own advisers warned in a report that the nation was not ready for the inevitable consequences of climate change, including deadly heat waves and food and water shortages.
This is shocking news. Less than a day into the job and it appears that the new prime minister has already downgraded action to tackle climate change, one of the biggest threats we face,' said Craig Bennett, CEO of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. 'This week the government's own advisors warned of ever growing risks to our businesses, homes and food if we don't do more to cut fossil fuel pollution.'
Bennett wrote in an op-ed for the Independent:
Now, with Theresa May in power, we are looking for a clear commitment to policies that will put the country on track to meeting out Climate Change Act goals and to delivering the Paris climate change Agreement to keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. But there is no department directly responsible for this.
[....] Time is running out to avert catastrophic climate change and to halt the decline of nature. This is about protecting people as well as the planet we live on. There is no time to lose for the new prime minister in changing path—and, thanks to David Cameron, so much time has already been lost.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party's sole Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons, tweeted that the move was 'a serious backwards step' and told the Independent, 'The decision to shut down DECC is a deeply worrying move from Theresa May. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the government.'
May also made several controversial appointments to her new post-Brexit cabinet, including naming her one-time rival for prime minister, Andrea Leadsom, as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Leadsom in 2015 served as Minister for Energy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, during which she reportedly asked officials whether climate change was real.
Environmental groups were distressed. Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said Thursday, "The voting record and affiliation with climate skeptics of key cabinet appointees are deeply worrying. They show a lack of understanding posed by climate change to the UK and the world.'
'If we are to continue to have a key global role in environmental action, we need urgent reassurance from the new government that the hard won progress on climate and renewables targets, air pollution, and the protection of wildlife will not be sidelined or abandoned in the Brexit negotiations,' Sauven said.
And it was not just the advocacy sector that slammed the decision.
Former Labor leader Ed Miliband tweeted, 'DECC abolition just plain stupid. Climate not even mentioned in new [department] title. Matters because departments shape priorities, shape outcomes.'
Stephen Devlin, an environmental economist at the New Economics Foundation, released a press statement titled ' We Can't Afford to Scrap DECC' wherein he described May's action as 'a terrible move' and said it 'signals a troubling de-prioritization of climate change by this government.'
'This reshuffle risks dropping climate change from the policy agenda altogether—a staggering act of negligence for which we will all pay the price,' Devlin said."

       A study by Scientists at the University of Utah published in the Proceedings of the National Science Foundation, October 10, 2016, found that since 1979 climate change has been responsible for more than one-half of the dryness of western forests and in the increase in the length of fire seasons. Since 1984, those factors have enlarged the cumulative fire area by 16,000 square miles (Tatiana Schlosberg, "Half of Rise in Fire Risk Is Tied to Climate Change," The New York Times, October 11, 2016).

       Coral Davenport, "Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal," The New York Times, October 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/world/africa/kigali-deal-hfc-air-conditioners.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
HFCs are just a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but they function as a sort of supercharged greenhouse gas, with 1,000 times the heat-trapping potency of carbon dioxide.
The Kigali deal was seven years in the making, and is a compromise between rich nations and poorer, hotter ones, including some where rising incomes are just starting to bring air-conditioners within reach. Wealthier nations will freeze production of HFCs more quickly than poorer countries, though some nations, including those in Africa, elected to phase the chemicals out more rapidly than required, citing the grave threats they face from climate change."
"the Kigali deal includes specific targets and timetables to replace HFCs with more planet-friendly alternatives, trade sanctions to punish scofflaws, and an agreement by rich countries to help finance the transition of poor countries to the costlier replacement products."
"Over all, the deal is expected to lead to the reduction of the equivalent of 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — about two times the carbon pollution produced annually by the entire world."
"The United States and other rich countries had pushed a plan that would freeze the use of the heat-trapping chemicals by 2021, reducing them to about 15 percent of 2012 HFC levels by 2046. That plan would have eliminated the equivalent of about 90 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere by 2050.
Negotiators from India and some of the world’s other hottest and poorest countries pushed back hard at that proposal. In India, millions of people are on the verge of being able to afford air-conditioners cooled by HFCs."
" The final deal will divide the world economy into three tracks. The richest countries, including the United States and those in the European Union, will freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018, reducing them to about 15 percent of 2012 levels by 2036.
Much of the rest of the world, including China, Brazil and all of Africa, will freeze HFC use by 2024, reducing it to 20 percent of 2021 levels by 2045.
A small group of the world’s hottest countries — India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — will have the most lenient schedule, freezing HFC use by 2028 and reducing it to about 15 percent of 2025 levels by 2047."

     Emily J. Gertz, "Water for Millions Is Vanishing as Bolivia’s Glaciers Melt: High mountain ice has retreated dramatically in the Andes and could be nearly gone by the end of the century," TakePart, October 22, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/10/22/water-for-millions-vanishing-as-bolivia-glaciers-melt?cmpid=tpnews-eml-2016-10-22-weekly, reported, " Glaciers in the Bolivian Andes have shrunk 43 percent since 1986 as a result of rising global temperatures, putting millions of people at risk for shortages of drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower.
The losses add up to about 88 square miles of land ice cover, or just under 10 percent of the total area of the world’s tropical glaciers. Glaciers worldwide store about 70 percent of the world’s freshwater.
This the first study to assess all three of Bolivia’s main glacier ranges, according to the team of British and Bolivian scientists who revealed the dramatic ice loss in research published Thursday in the journal The Cryosphere."
" Based on current trends, the researchers estimated that the glaciers could fade to just 20 square miles by 2100.
The cities of La Paz and El Alto, whose 2.3 million residents comprise roughly 20 percent of the Bolivian population, rely on Andean glaciers for between 15 and 30 percent of their water supply, said scientist Simon Cook of Manchester Metropolitan University, the study’s lead author. 'The issue of water supply as these glaciers decline, to places like La Paz, has been documented before,' he said. 'What we’re saying, perhaps for the first time, is that these glaciers could be almost gone by the end of the century, which creates a significant water risk.'
The dangers don’t stop there. The researchers found that as the glaciers recede, they are creating high altitude lakes that can cause dangerous flooding for mountain communities downstream."

     Josh Haner, Edward Wong, Derek Watkins and Jeremy White, "Living in China’s Expanding Deserts:  People on the edges of the country’s vast seas of sand are being displaced by climate change," The New York Times, October 23, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/24/world/asia/living-in-chinas-expanding-deserts.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported,
"This desert, called the Tengger, lies on the southern edge of the massive Gobi Desert, not far from major cities like Beijing. The Tengger is growing.
For years, China’s deserts spread at an annual rate of more than 1,300 square miles. Many villages have been lost. Climate change and human activities have accelerated desertification. China says government efforts to relocate residents, plant trees and limit herding have slowed or reversed desert growth in some areas. But the usefulness of those policies is debated by scientists, and deserts are expanding in critical regions.
Nearly 20 percent of China is desert, and drought across the northern region is getting worse. One recent estimate said China had 21,000 square miles more desert than what existed in 1975 — about the size of Croatia. As the Tengger expands, it is merging with two other deserts to form a vast sea of sand that could become uninhabitable.
Jiali lives in an area called Alxa League, where the government has relocated about 30,000 people, who are called 'ecological migrants,' because of desertification.
Across northern China, generations of families have made a living herding animals on the edge of the desert. Officials say that along with climate change, overgrazing is contributing to the desert’s growth. But some experiments suggest moderate grazing may actually mitigate the effects of climate change on grasslands, and China’s herder relocation policies could be undermining that."

     Bill Vlasic, "Fuel Targets Threatened by Demand for Big Autos," The New York Times, July 18, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/19/business/demand-for-big-vehicles-threatens-emissions-targets.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Despite praising automakers for recent gains in fuel economy, two federal agencies said on Monday that surging consumer demand for pickups and sport utility vehicles made it unlikely that the industry could meet the government’s ambitious projections a decade from now.
If fuel prices remain low, and trucks continue to outsell cars, the industry will probably not meet the goal of 54.5 miles per gallon as a fleetwide average by 2025, but will probably come in at only about 50 miles a gallon, according to a report by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency."

     The state of California investing in a growing network of stations to recharge hydrogen fuel cells has begun to make cars powered buy them practical. The only emission from the fuel cells is water (Neal E. Boudette, "Water Out of the Tailpipe: A New Class of Electric Car Gains Traction," The New York Times, July 21, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/automobiles/water-out-the-tailpipe-a-new-class-of-electric-car-gains-traction.html?ref=todayspaper).

     Emily J. Gertz. "New Solar Device Removes Carbon Dioxide From the Atmosphere," Take Part, Jul 28, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/07/28/experimental-artificial-leaf-solar-cell-converts-co2-usable-fuel?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-07-28, reported, " If the experimental technology can be commercialized, it can become an important tool for reducing the impact of climate change.
Researchers used simulated sunlight to power a solar cell that converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into syngas, a combination of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide that can be burned for energy or converted into liquid fuels."

       NASA, in June 2016, was preparing to test an electrically powered light plane that if successful could be a forerunner of less greenhouse gas polluting light aircraft (Kenneth Chang, "NASA Plans A Test Plane That Flies On Electricity," The New York Times, June 18, 2016).

       Taylor Hill, "Germany Wants to Ban Fossil-Fuel-Powered Cars:The nation’s parliament is calling for the elimination of the internal combustion engine by 2030," takepart, October 11, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/10/12/trip-advisor-bans-ticket-sales-animal-selfies-elephant-rides, reported, "Germany, home of global automotive giants Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, is on the road to banning gas and diesel engines from its highways and byways.
The Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany’s parliament, passed a resolution on Monday that calls for the elimination of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel engines by 2030.
The resolution is nonbinding and needs the approval of the European Union, as it would also apply to vehicles from other EU nations. But it marks a shift in thinking for a country whose automobile industry is one of the largest in the world and the driver of the German economy."
Jack Healey and John Schwartz, "U.S. Suspends Construction on Part of North Dakota Pipeline," The New York Times, September 9, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/us/judge-approves-construction-of-oil-pipeline-in-north-dakota.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "The federal government on Friday temporarily blocked construction on part of a North Dakota oil pipeline, an unusual intervention in a prairie battle that has drawn thousands of Native Americans and activists to camp and demonstrate."
The Army Engineers and the Justice Department acted saying that in this, and other cases, more consultation needs to take place with effected Indian nations before major projects go ahead.

      The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was engaged, July 16, 2013, https://secure.nrdconline.org/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=0C488BACD505BB29A287C83AC75ED63D.app322a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=4045&autologin=true&s_src=EMOTARPETACT0716FU&utm_source=alert&utm_medium=actr&utm_campaign=email, in a letter writing campaign to President Obama, saying, "I am alarmed that the oil industry plans to ship 1.5 million barrels per day of tar sands crude from Canada to the United States by pipeline and tanker -- flooding America with twice as much tar sands crude as the Keystone XL pipeline would have, choking our atmosphere with 350 million metric tons of carbon pollution and threatening virtually all of our coastlines and three major rivers with nearly impossible-to-clean-up oil spills. I urge you to direct your Coast Guard and EPA to impose an immediate ban on all tar sands tanker and barge traffic in U.S. waters.
I applaud you for responding to the dire threat of climate change by securing a breakthrough climate accord in Paris, cracking down on power plant pollution and rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. But with evidence mounting that our climate is warming far more rapidly than predicted, we must act swiftly when new threats emerge. Please do not leave this issue for the next president to address -- act now to secure your legacy of climate leadership by blocking this tar sands onslaught. Thank you."

       John R. Platt, "Oregon Finds Switching From Coal to Renewable Energy Is a Bargain: Replacing coal-fired electricity with ever-cheaper wind and solar power will raise utility rates just 0.1 percent by 2030," TakePart, August, 11, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/08/11/switching-coal-renewable-energy-bargain-oregon?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-12-01, reported, "Oregon may have a reputation for rainy weather, but the outlook for the renewable energy there is definitely sunny.
Earlier this year the state passed legislation that requires utilities to stop generating electricity from coal by 2030. At the time, one of Oregon’s two main energy utilities, Pacific Power, predicted that the switch to renewables would come with a fairly high cost, hitting customers with a rate increase of 0.8 percent per year through 2030. That’s a cumulative increase of about 12 percent over the next 14 years.
Since then, however, things have changed. After the legislation passed, Pacific Power put out a request for bids for renewable energy projects, and developers came back with prices much lower than expected.
How low? Try 0.1 percent through the year 2028. That’s not per year, like the previous estimate. It’s the projected rate increase for the entire time period."
"The cost savings come not only from solar energy’s increasing efficiency and falling prices for the technology output but from the volume of development."

        Taylor Hill, "The Tide Is Turning for a New Source of Green Energy: The first underwater turbines are connected to Scotland’s power grid," TakePart, September 1, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/09/01/tide-shifting-worlds-most-reliable-renewable-energy-sources?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-11-28, reported, " Two turbines installed off Scotland’s coast aren’t harnessing the country’s winds to generate power. Instead, these blades are spinning underwater, using an even more predictable renewable power source in the region—tides.
The offshore array is the world’s first network of tidal turbines to deliver electricity to the power grid , according to Nova Innovation, the company behind the development."
Ian Austen, "Justin Trudeau Approves Oil Pipeline Expansion in Canada," The New York Times, November 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/canada/canada-trudeau-kinder-morgan-pipeline.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, "In a decision that will almost surely prompt showdowns with environmentalists, indigenous groups and some political allies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada approved on Tuesday the expansion of a pipeline linking the oil sands in Alberta to a tanker port in British Columbia.
The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project will increase the capacity of a 53-year-old pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day from 300,000 and expand the tanker port. In recent weeks, there have been several large protests against the project, particularly in Vancouver, British Columbia. But Rachel Notley, the premier of Alberta, has repeatedly said that the project is critical to the future of her province’s energy industry."

        Andrea Germanos, " Climate Commitments Be Damned, Trudeau OKs 'Carbon Bomb' LNG Project: "It's not possible to be a climate leader and build new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Petronas fracked gas plant," Common Dreams ,September 28, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/28/climate-commitments-be-damned-trudeau-oks-carbon-bomb-lng-project, reported, " The Canadian government on Tuesday greenlighted a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in British Columbia which climate experts and advocacy organizations say tramples Indigenous rights, threatens ecological damage, and essentially throws the country's climate commitments out the window.
Final approval' of the Pacific NorthWest project led by Malaysia's state-owned energy company Petronas, as CBC reports, 'depends on the meeting of more than 190 'legally binding' and 'scientifically determined' conditions.'
   The climate impacts of the fracked gas project have been described as ' just enormous ,' and the Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee said the 'project would be the largest source of carbon pollution in Canada.'
Derrick O'Keefe points out at Ricochet that 'In a submission to the project's environmental assessment, Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives described Pacific NorthWest LNG as a 'carbon bomb.''
The multiple conditions the federal government attached to the project did little to quell climate concerns from environmental groups.
Matt Horne, associate B.C. director at the Pembina Institute, said, 'Even with the conditions included in the approval, the project would still be significantly higher polluting than other LNG proposals in the province (31% higher than LNG Canada, and 75% higher than Woodfibre LNG).'
On top of that, Horne said, ' B.C. is already projected to miss its climate targets by a wide margin and the province's new climate plan did little to solve the problem.'
Added Caitlyn Vernon, campaigns director at Sierra Club B.C., '190 conditions don't change the math: it's not possible to be a climate leader and build new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Petronas fracked gas plant.'
'Not only will this project push our Paris climate commitments further out of reach, it also goes against the expressed wishes of several First Nations along the route,' stated Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.
And 'Beyond the project being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada,' writes Council of Canadians political director Brent Patterson:, 'the LNG terminal and its associated upstream operations would also consume 5.1 million cubic meters of fresh water per year, the equivalent of the annual fresh water use of 56,000 people.'
And then there's the issue of the project's impacts on salmon.
The Wilderness Committee explains that the terminal 'is slated to be built on top of an eelgrass bed that supports 88 per cent of the salmon in the Skeena River and all those who rely on them.' Vernon says the approval means 'Canada's second largest salmon run, on the Skeena River, may have had its death warrant signed.'
Also warning of its impacts on the salmon population, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said , 'This is another example of betrayal of the rights and interests of First Nations people.'
Ninety scientists and climate experts from Canada, the U.S., and Australia in May wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to reject the project, stating, 'Honoring the commitment Canada made in Paris to limit global warming well below 2.0 degrees above pre-industrial levels will require a massive effort to reduce emissions. We must begin by rejecting plans that would increase GHG emissions and lock us in fossil fuel extraction for decades to come.'
'If you are in a hole, you shouldn't dig deeper. What you should really do is start to get out of that hole,' signatory Kirsten Zickheld, a professor at Simon Fraser University, said to the Vancouver Sun. 'In this case, what it really means is leaving fossil fuels behind and embarking on a renewable energy trajectory.'
Otherwise, said Vernon, we can't 'expect to pass on a livable world to our children and generations yet unborn.'"

      Nadia Prupis, " Victory in Canada as Court Strikes Down Northern Gateway Pipeline: Opponents "said 'no' to Enbridge 12 years ago when it first proposed the project. And now that 'no' has the backing of the courts," Common Dreams, June 30, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/30/victory-canada-court-strikes-down-northern-gateway-pipeline, reported. " Environmentalists and Indigenous rights advocates celebrated on Thursday after a judge struck down the Canadian government's 2014 approval of a controversial pipeline project in a landmark ruling.
The court found (pdf) that the government had not done enough to consult with First Nations communities that would be impacted by the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline, approved under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The decision 'confirms that the environmental assessment of major pipeline projects was badly eroded by the previous government's dismantling of environmental laws,' said Barry Robinson, an attorney for the environmental law firm Ecojustice, which brought the case.
Caitlyn Vernon, a spokesperson for the Sierra Club, told CBC, "Today is a good day for the B.C. coast, climate and salmon rivers. By overturning federal approval of Northern Gateway, the courts have put yet another nail in the coffin of this pipeline and tankers project.'
'First Nations, local communities, and environmental interests said 'no' to Enbridge 12 years ago when it first proposed the project. And now that 'no' has the backing of the courts,' Robinson said.
The pipeline would have transported tar sands crude from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. Opponents have long warned that it would expand the use of dangerous fossil fuels, delay the implementation of clean energy, and increase dangers faced by the environment and impacted communities, including possible violation of First Nations treaty rights.
Critics have also pointed out that Northern Gateway's parent company, Enbridge, has a history of environmental destruction, including a massive pipeline rupture that spilled close to one million gallons of crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek in 2010—eventually forcing the company to pay $75 million in cleanup costs.
Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society, one of the plaintiffs in the legal challenge, said Thursday, 'We know from Enbridge's own shoddy public safety record that tar sands oil spills have devastating consequences. Today's decision is a victory across the board: for the wildlife living in this marine environment, and for the communities living at its shores.'
The social advocacy group Council of Canadians congratulated the First Nations communities and all other groups involved in the court case. The organization's executive director Maude Barlowe has previously called the opposition movement against Northern Gateway 'one of the most important fights we have right now.'
The court ruling also denotes an early victory for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who campaigned on a promise of ushering in climate-friendly policies, telling voters after a landslide victory in May 2015 that 'change has finally come to Alberta. New people, new ideas and a fresh start for our great province.'"

      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the expansion of the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline in Western Alberta, linking the Alberta Tar Sands to an oil port in British Columbia. The pipeline's capacity is to be increased from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day ("Trudeau Approves Oil Pipeline Expansion in Canada," The New York Times, November 30, 2016).

      Nika Knight, "Western Canada Oil Spill Drenches Birds, Will Taint Drinking Water for Months to Come: 200,000 liters of crude oil spilled into North Saskatchewan River, soaking local wildlife and forcing cities to shut off public water supply, Common Dreams , July 26, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/26/western-canada-oil-spill-drenches-birds-will-taint-drinking-water-months-come, reported,  " Despite a devastating pipeline leak that flooded the North Saskatchewan River with 200,000 liters of tar sands crude last Thursday, Husky Energy waited until Monday to shut down the leaking pipeline. An executive with the oil behemoth said the company was "deeply sorry" for the incident while announcing the pipeline closure.
The apology and pipeline shutdown also only occurred after two cities were forced to shut off their water supplies and photos emerged of birds drenched in "very, very, very thick bitumen," according to Saskatoon-based rescue organization Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation .
Provincial officials and wildlife rescuers both warn that the effects of the spill will be long-term.
Meanwhile, booms laid on the river to contain the spill have been ineffective, a provincial official who wished to remain anonymous told the Canadian Press, as high water levels have lifted the oil over the barriers. As of Monday evening, less than half of the oil spilled had been recovered .
The pipeline shutdown also came despite Husky's announcement on Sunday that the spill cleanup was complete .
Canada's environmental agency announced Monday that it is investigating the spill.
Reuters reports on the oil's spread downstream:
The oil reached Prince Albert, population 35,000, hours earlier than expected on Monday, widening the impact and cost of the spill. Workers there raced to stretch a 30-kilometre hose to draw drinking water from another source.
A sheen was visible on the river in the morning, spurring the city to shut its water treatment plant intake, said city manager Jim Toye. It has two days worth of stored water before it must find another source.
'We thought we had more time,' Toye said in an interview. 'We (will) really hit the wall after two days.'
Less than half of the 1,572 leaked barrels of oil had been recovered as of Monday, Saskatchewan environment official Wes Kotyk said.
Upstream of Prince Albert, the city of North Battleford stopped drawing drinking water from the river last week.
Prince Albert residents are stockpiling clean water in bathtubs and Tupperware containers, CBC reports, and city officials say they will seek compensation from Husky for the disastrous spill.
Another provincial official told the Huffington Post that North Battleford's and Prince Albert's drinking water could remain unsafe to drink for months.
North Battleford's residents are relying on well water, in the meantime. As for Prince Albert, Reuters reports: 'Once Prince Albert's stored water is exhausted, it hopes to use rainfall collected in a retention pond, buying itself four more days. After that it would rely on water from a 12-inch (30 centimeter) diameter hose to the South Saskatchewan River, running along a highway.'
A reporter with the CBC tweeted footage of a construction crew from Prince Albert "scrambling" to set up that hose:
Yet even that new arrangement may not be enough, as Toye told Reuters it would only stretch Prince Albert's water supply for another two months. Sam Ferris from Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency commented to the Huffington Post that the tainted water supply is 'not going to be a short-term event. It could go on for some time.'
Meanwhile, local wildlife rescue groups have set up a triage station near the origin of the spill in Maidstone, Saskatchewan, to help clean oil-drenched wild animals.
So far, three birds—a great blue heron, a Canada goose, and a sparrow—as well as a garter snake have been taken in for treatment. The sparrow has died. Rescuers expect many more animals will be taken in for clean-up in the days to come.
Jan Shadick from Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation spoke to CBC about the tragedy:
Shadick said treating the birds that have been recovered, and the possibility of many more birds needing treatment, filled her with 'great sadness.'
'For me, it's just really overwhelmingly sad to see these birds drenched in this black oil and know that I have to wait to wash them and do something about it. And to just see the struggle, I guess, in their eyes,' she said.
'Perhaps it's the potential that there are hundreds and hundreds of them and my, at the moment, sense of helplessness at [not] being able to fix it immediately.'
And despite the harm to wildlife and people's drinking water, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley defended the safety of pipelines to transport fossil fuels.
'Even with this spill it remains the case that absolutely the safest way to transport oil and gas is by way of pipeline,' she told the Canadian Press.
'Had a spill occurred on rail there might well be injuries involved. In everything you do there are risks, but I would suggest overall the risks [of pipelines] are low,' Notley added."

       The rupture of a pipeline in Alabama, in September 2016, reduced gasoline supplies in the southeastern U.S., raising gasoline prices, while likely causing environmental damage. Perhaps 360,000 gallons of gasoline spilled in Shelby County, south of Birmingham, AL (Alan Blinder, "Gas Prices Rise in
South After Rupture in a Pipeline," The New York Times, September 20, 2016).
Another Pipeline burst in Alabama, October 30, 2016. The Colonial gas pipeline broke with a fiery explosion south of Birmingham. People were evacuated from within three miles of the break, as the gas escaping from the pipe was allowed to burn off ("Fiery Pipeline Explosion in Alabama," The New York Times, November 1, 2016).

        Nadia Prupis, "California Oil Spill Leaves 'Gooey Mess'—And a Reminder of Big Oil's Dangers: 'It is distressing to once again see this kind of devastation visited upon a sensitive location'," Common Dreams , Thursday, June 23, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/23/california-oil-spill-leaves-gooey-mess-and-reminder-big-oils-dangers, reported, " A n oil spill has reportedly leaked thousands of gallons of crude from a pipeline into a canyon in Ventura County, California, fire officials said Thursday—in what environmentalists say is a reminder of the dangers of coastal fossil fuel operations.
The leak spilled at least 29,000 gallons, or 700 barrels, as emergency crews used hoses to suck up the 'gooey mess' that was created when the oil formed a small lake in a gorge known as Prince Barranca, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The operating line has been shut down. The LA Times notes that it is the 10th time in 10 years that the pipeline company, Crimson Pipeline, has had its pipes break or fail.
Meanwhile, the oil company, Aera Energy, is jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil and is responsible for 25 percent of California's output, making it one of the state's biggest oil producers.
'It is distressing to once again see this kind of devastation visited upon a sensitive location,' said Brian Segee, senior attorney with the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center.
The figures on the oil spill have been difficult to verify. Earlier in the day, fire officials put the estimate at 5,000 barrels—or 210,000 gallons—before amending it to a much smaller number.
Segee noted that the response to last year's Plains All American oil spill on Santa Barbara's Refugio Beach was similar.
'So far estimates for the size of this spill have been all over the map. It is important to remember that with last year's Plains All American Oil Spill at Refugio Beach, the initial industry estimates were orders of magnitude below reality,' Segee said. 'But we are still very early in understanding the scope of this spill and the challenges that yet another major oil spill will deliver to our region. Regardless of the size, any amount of spilled oil is inexcusable and destructive.'
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) told the LAT the spill should serve as another warning of Big Oil's risks.
CBD attorney Kristen Monsell said, ' This major spill is another grim example of why we must get pipelines and oil drilling out of California's vulnerable coastal environment. The spill's already causing environmental damage. We've got to stop thinking about these oil spills as accidents and start regarding them as completely predictable ecological tragedies that we can prevent with strong action.'"

      Unusually strong winds and dryness spread wildfire through Haifa and areas of Northern Israel for a number of days, in November 2016, devouring forests, damaging homes and other buildings and prompting the evacuation of thousands of people (Isabel Kershner, Israeli Officials Pointing to Arson as Wildfires Rage for Third Day," The New York Times, November 25, 2016).

       "Obama Administration Cancels Illegal Oil Drilling Leases on Land Sacred to Blackfeet Tribe," Earth Justice, November 16, 2016, www.eaethjustice.org, reported, " The Blackfeet Nation won a hard fought victory today after the Interior Department announced the cancellation of 15 illegal oil and gas drilling leases in a wild area adjacent to Glacier National Park.
These leases would have threatened this undeveloped region, known as the Badger-Two Medicine area, which is a federally-recognized Traditional Cultural District encompassing 130,000 acres along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and adjacent to the southeast boundary of Glacier National Park. For more than 10,000 years, the area has provided strength, subsistence and cultural identity for members of the Blackfeet Nation. Earthjustice is working in partnership with tribal members to protect this special area."

       Greenpeace reported November 18, 2016, https://secure3.convio.net/gpeace/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=06E4D06D9815093C9EBA23C73C8EA07E.app313a?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2051&autologin=true, " The Obama administration just released its final plan on where fossil fuel companies will be allowed to start new drilling for the next five years. Earlier this year we got the good news that the Atlantic Ocean would not be leased to fossil fuel companies — and today, we can say the same for the U.S. Arctic Ocean"

        Thomas Fuller, "Oakland Votes to Block Large Shipments of Coal," The New York Times, June 28, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/oakland-coal-transport-ban.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "The city of Oakland, Calif., on Monday banned the transport and storage of large coal shipments, a blow to a developer’s plans to use a former Army base as an export terminal to ship coal to China and other overseas markets.
The terminal would have been the largest coal shipment facility on the West Coast, with a planned capacity to increase coal exports in the United States by 19 percent, according to the Sierra Club, the environmental group."

        Keith Bradshaw, "Despite Climate Change Vow, China Pushes to Dig More Coal," The New York Times, November 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/business/energy-environment/china-coal-climate-change.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "America’s uncertain stance toward global warming under the coming administration of Donald J. Trump has given China a leading role in the fight against climate change. It has called on the United States to recognize established science and to work with other countries to reduce dependence on dirty fuels like coal and oil.
But there is a problem: Even as it does so, China is scrambling to mine and burn more coal.
A lack of stockpiles and worries about electricity blackouts are spurring Chinese officials to reverse curbs that once helped reduce coal production. Mines are reopening. Miners are being lured back with fatter paychecks.
China’s response to coal scarcity shows how hard it will be to wean the country off coal. That makes it harder for China and the world to meet emissions targets, as Chinese coal is the world’s largest single source of carbon emissions from human activities."

       However, Michael Forsyth, "China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020," The New York Times, January 5, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/world/asia/china-renewable-energy-investment.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " China intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, the government’s energy agency said on Thursday.
The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency.
The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog."

      Volkswagen and BMW have teamed up with Charge Point of California to install 100 electric car charging stations at key points along major highways on the U.S. east and west coasts ("Signs of Progress," Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2016).

       Franklin Courson reported by E-mail, November 14, 2016, " North Carolina is Burning," " First of all, we are in a severe drought situation. Our area has had only 1.3' of rain since September first and the land is parched. No rain in sight for at least another 10 days. As a result, fires have broken out. The largest is now over 7,000 acres and is in the county adjoining Asheville. Mandatory evacuations are in effect there. There are also voluntary evacuation in other parts of that county as well as our county where several fires have reached over 300-400 acres. There are around 30 fires, large and small in our area as well as Eastern Tennessee and the northern part of South Carolina. Firefighters from 30 states have travelled to help us."
Alan Blinder, "Wildfires Char Over 80,000 Acres in the Parched South," The New York Times, November 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/us/wildfires-char-over-80000-acres-in-the-parched-south.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Dozens of large wildfires raged on Tuesday in the South, where more than 80,000 acres have burned and where emergency officials faced ominous forecasts of more dry weather and spreading flames.
Although the fires often stayed miles from cities and towns, the blazes had broad effects in the South. Smoke drifted far from the fires, reaching places like Atlanta and Charleston, S.C., and prompting state environmental agencies to issue air quality warnings."
John Jeter, Jonah Engle Bromwich and Niaj Choksi, "Gatlinburg Wildfires Force Evacuations: ‘It Was Like Driving Into Hell’," The New York Times, November http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/gatlinburg-tennessee-wildfire.html?ref=todayspaper. 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/gatlinburg-tennessee-wildfire.html?ref=todayspaper, " Deadly wildfires ripped through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee on Monday night and Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee as emergency responders sought to contain a blaze that conjured biblical comparison.
'Everywhere you looked, there were fires everywhere. It was like driving into hell,' said Rain Moore, 32, a lieutenant with the Sneedville Fire Department, about an hour and a half away.
Mr. Moore said he arrived early Tuesday and, while fighting the fire in the darkness, saw orange flames burning from the center of trees, indicating a strong intensity.
Fueled by high winds and a drought in Tennessee, the fires damaged about 150 buildings and forced thousands to evacuate. Three people died and 14 others were injured, officials said Tuesday afternoon.
More than 14,000 people left Gatlinburg, and others were evacuated from nearby Pigeon Forge as well as other parts of Sevier County."

        2016 was another difficult fire season across the west, including in Washington State. In the past, the Spokane Reservation has usually been protected from fire by rivers. But the combination of the new drought conditions and wind caused a fire to jump the Spokane Rover onto the reservation in three places burning out several farmers and ranchers, burning at least 15 head of cattle, injuring horses as well as wildlife, including elk and deer. More than 13,000 acres, 10 percent of the reservation, burned, cutting power, water and phone lines, while closing the windy main road to Spokane, whose guardrails were destroyed (Kara Briggs, "Spokane Reservation Engulfed In Smoke As Wildfire Rages On," ICTMN, August 26, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/spokane-reservation-engulfed-in-smoke-as-wildfire-rages-on/).
Earlier in Washington State, Richard Walker, "Fire Destroys More Than 250 Homes, Kills Two in Lake Isabella Area," ICTMN, June 29, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/fire-destroys-more-than-250-homes-kills-two-in-lake-isabella-area/, reported, " A fire swept across traditional Tubatulabal, Kawaiisu and Paiute lands this week, destroying more than 250 homes and buildings and killing two people."

       With Tornado season now much longer, on November 30, 2016, tornadoes killed 5 people and damaged dozens of homes and businesses in Polk County, TN and Rosailie, AL ("Deadly Tornadoes Rip Through Alabama and Tennessee," The New York Times, November 30, 2016).

     Richard Perez-Pena, "West Virginia Floods Cause 23 Deaths and Vast Wreckage," The New York Times, June 24, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/25/us/west-virginia-floods.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Record flooding in West Virginia killed at least 23 people, stranded thousands, left thousands more without utilities, and washed away houses, roads and vehicles after a band of thunderstorms battered the region on Thursday." Much of West Virginia received one to three inches of rain in a few hours June 23.

       Very heavy rains returned to Louisiana and southern Mississippi, in mid-August, to bring wide spread flooding, with rain still falling, August 12. The Governor of Louisiana declared a  state of emergency in several parishes, that was threatening to be extended to others as the rain continued ("Louisiana: Emergency order follows torrential rain, flooding ," San Francisco Chronicle, August 13, 2016.
By August 15, with more rain coming, across much of Louisiana the floods had reached record levels, with 6 known dead, more than 20,000 people rescued, and many thousands more displaced. Some areas had received more than two feet of rain in 72 hours (Campbell Robertson, "Thousands Displaced in Storm-Drenched Louisiana," The New York Times, August 14, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/us/louisiana-storm-floods-rescue.html?ref=todayspaper).
Campbell Robertson and Alan Blinder, "As Louisiana Floodwaters Recede, the Scope of Disaster Comes Into View," The New York Times, August 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/us/louisiana-flooding.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, " As the receding floodwaters continued to expose the magnitude of the disaster the state has been enduring, Louisiana officials said Tuesday that at least 11 people had died, and that about 30,000 people had been rescued. Gov. John Bel Edwards acknowledged that the state did not know how many people were missing, but he said that nearly 8,100 people had slept in shelters on Monday night and that some 40,000 homes had been impacted to varying degrees.'"
The governor called this a " thousand year flood," worst in Louisiana history, and scientists predict more of them as with global warming there is now 5% more water in the air than before industrialization began.

     Henry Fountain, "Scientists See Push From Climate Change in Louisiana Flooding," The New York Times, September  7, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/08/science/global-warming-louisiana-flooding.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, " Climate change has increased the likelihood of torrential downpours along the Gulf Coast like those that led to deadly floods in southern Louisiana last month , scientists said Wednesday.
Using historical records of rainfall and computer models that simulate climate, the researchers, including several from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that global warming increased the chances of such intense rains in the region by at least 40 percent.
'But it’s probably much closer to a doubling of the probability" of such an event, or a 100 percent increase, said Heidi Cullen, chief scientist for Climate Central, the research organization that coordinated the study.'"

        New England was suffering from an unusual and extreme drought over the summer and into the fall of 2016. Rivers have been low, many wells have gone dry, farmers had lost millions of dollars of ruined and damaged crops, as of late September (Jess Bidgood, "Scenes From New England’s Drought: Dry Wells, Dead Fish and Ailing Farms," The New York Times, September. 26, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/us/scenes-from-new-englands-drought-dry-wells-dead-fish-and-ailing-farms.html?ref=todayspaper).

        A heat wave across the Southwest in mid-June 2016, brought record 120 degree Fahrenheit temperature to Phoenix, AZ, June 19 (Acuweather.com, http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/phoenix-az/85004/weather-forecast/346935). The heatwave brought record high temperatures to several locations over a number of days and made more difficult fire fighting from California to New Mexico.
Feranda Santos, "Raging Wildfires in the Southwest Stretch Resources," June 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/us/raging-wildfires-in-the-southwest-stretch-resources.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "Firefighters across Arizona and New Mexico battled 31 wildfires on Wednesday, their efforts complicated by a relentless heat wave and bone-dry conditions. And in the Angeles National Forest, on the northern edge of Los Angeles, two fires kept more than 300 families from their homes as the fires threatened to merge into one.
Other fires ignited in Colorado and Utah, threatening homes, closing roads and stoking the zero-sum competition for finite resources — firefighters and the airplanes and helicopters that dump chemicals and water."
"the Cedar Creek fire, burning on the Fort Apache Reservation in east-central Arizona, just outside the city of Show Low.
The Cedar Creek fire is burning at 6,300 feet, and temperatures were in the mid-90s on Wednesday — some five degrees above average, though nowhere near the 110 registered in Phoenix that day.
"Wildfires are judged not by size, but by complexity, and none were more complex in Arizona on Wednesday than the Cedar Creek fire, which had burned roughly 43,000 acres, an area about the size of Baton Rouge, La.
Another fire, named Juniper, in the Tonto National Forest, had consumed less than that — 31,000 square miles — but because the area it was burning was so remote, it had a smaller corps of firefighters assigned to it, according to official reports."
"At 4,900 acres, the San Gabriel Complex, as the merging Southern California fires have come to be known, was licking at backyards in the cities of Azusa and Duarte. Some 1,400 firefighters fought the flames Wednesday, taking advantage of the slightly cooler temperature to make headway."
As of July 15 , the heat Southwest wave was continuing, and with very little rain. In Albuquerque, we usually have just a few days over 100 degrees each summer. So far this year, we have had a month of a great many 100 or more degree days. Some municipalities in New Mexico have had a number of record hot days for the date, and records for the number of days in a row over 100. Following an extremely dry winter and spring, the monsoons that normally begin late June or early August have yet to arrive, and Albuquerque has received less than 40% of the average rain fall for so far this year (local radio, TV and newspaper weather reports).
The heat wave that has been burning the Southwest, as of July 22, had spread across the U.S. with temperatures over 100 in Chicago, Detroit, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, and Washington, DC, and 95-100 in New York. Accuweather, http://www.accuweather.com, was predicting no relief through the end of July.
The heat wave was continuing to make fighting wild fires more difficult, with a sizable number in progress in late July. Christine Hauser, "Wildfires Sweep Through Nearly 50,000 Acres in California," The New York Times, July 25, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/us/wildfire-in-california.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Thousands of firefighters were battling wildfires on Monday in central and Southern California that have burned through nearly 50,000 acres and prompted thousands of people to evacuate their homes, the authorities said.
One of the blazes, called the 'Sand Fire,' broke out on Friday in the Santa Clarita area and burned deeper into the mountains above Los Angeles over the weekend. It was about 10 percent contained, the United States Forest Service said Monday morning. The moving wall of flames had scorched more than 33,000 acres and had forced about 20,000 residents from their homes, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
A separate fire in the Big Sur area, on the central coast, had spread to nearly 15,000 acres by Monday morning, officials said." One person had been reported killed and one house destroyed by the Sand Fire.

     Extreme weather crossing the U.S. in late July, brought unusual torrential rains to some places. Mike McPhatee, "Flood Rips Through Historic Maryland Town, Killing at Least 2," The New York Times, July 31, 2016,  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/01/us/ellicott-city-flood-maryland.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, " Ellicott City, Md., a historic town west of Baltimore, was devastated by flooding on Saturday night after more than six inches of rain fell in just two hours, sending a fast-moving current down its Main Street and leaving at least two people dead.
Officials and witnesses said the floodwaters rushed through the downtown area after torrential rain fell between 7 and 9 p.m. It ripped up sidewalks, gutted many of the town’s quaint shops and carried off vehicles, depositing some of them blocks away.
The body of a woman was recovered from the nearby Patapsco River early on Sunday, and the body of a man was also found, said Mark Miller, a spokesman for Howard County, where Ellicott City is the county seat.
'This was a different type of flooding than you would normally get when just the Patapsco rises — far more devastating,' Mr. Miller said. "It’s like the water was a piston. The water came through with such force.'"

        The Navajo Nation declared an emergency, in August, when heavy rain caused Salt Wash in the Mesa Farms area to flood, washing away houses, cars and livestock (Alysa Landry, "A series of crashes," Navajo Times, August 11, 2016).

       Nadia Prupis, " As Southwest Burns, Climate Scientists Warn: You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" 'If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, by mid-century what we think of as extreme summer heat today will become a typical summer day,'" Common Dreams, June 22, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/22/southwest-burns-climate-scientists-warn-you-aint-seen-nothin-yet, reported, " Wildfires in the Southwestern U.S. continued to rage on Wednesday, as the combination of extreme heat and erratic winds fueled the devastation and firefighters warned that blazes near Los Angeles were only about 10 percent contained .
As residents flee and emergency crews attempt to contain the infernos, climate scientists are warning that these deadly fires are climate change in action.
More than 20 fires are also burning in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington state, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. Meanwhile, record-breaking heat reached 123°F in Palm Springs and 115°F in Phoenix. Death Valley recorded the country's hottest temperature on Monday at 126°F. At least six deaths have been attributed to the extreme heat.
Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University who was in Phoenix for the Democratic National Platform committee meeting last weekend when the temperatures hit 106°F, told the panel that the extreme weather was 'an example of just the sort of extreme heat that is on the increase due to human-caused climate change.'
The California cities of Azusa and parts of Duarte were evacuated as twin wildfires burned through the San Gabriel Valley, destroying more than seven square miles combined. Firefighters with the Angeles National Forest service told ABC News that the conditions were the hottest they'd ever encountered.
Mann warned on Tuesday that the worst is yet to come.
'The likelihood of record heat has already doubled in the U.S. due to human-caused warming, and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg,' he told the Huffington Post.
The high temperatures have stymied emergency workers' efforts to extinguish the fires, which began burning even before the heatwave hit.
Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the HuffPost that there was no question the fires and scorching temperatures were the result of human-caused climate change.
The added heat from rising greenhouse gases equated to "running a small microwave oven over every square foot, at full power for 6 minutes, for every month of drought conditions" in the affected region, Trenberth said. 'So what used to be a regular heat wave now has extra oomph, and the danger is not just heat' but also a wildfire risk.
Mann also warned that, absent immediate action to curb climate change, scorching heat in the region could become the new normal by 2050.
'If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, by mid-century what we think of as extreme summer heat today will become a typical summer day,' he said."
On August 4, though the heat was cooling off somewhat, 27 major fires continued burning in the western U.S. One in Southern California that had explosively spread in a few days, had burned a least 14 homes and killed one person ("Wildfires Bearing Down in Western States," The New York Times, August 4, 2016; and CNN TV news in San Jose, CA morning of, August 4, 2016).

     On October 15-16, 2016, the State of New Mexico was in the midst of an unusual heat wave. In numerous places around the state, Albuquerque Chanel 4 weather reported that temperatures equaled or exceeded the record highs for those days. In most cases the record that was broken was made in 2014 or 2015.

     Cynthia H. Craft, "Like Tens of Millions of Matchsticks, California’s Dead Trees Stand Ready to Burn," The New York Times, August 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/science/california-dead-trees-forest-fires.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " At the height of California’s fierce wildfire season, the Sierra Nevada and North Coast forests are choked with tens of millions of dead and dying trees, from gnarly oaks to elegant pines that are turning leafy chapels into tinderboxes of highly combustible debris.
Ground crews wielding chain saws, axes and wood chippers are braving the intense summer heat in the Sierra’s lower elevations, where most of the pine trees have died. The devastation and danger are greatest in the central and southern Sierra Nevada, where the estimated number of dead trees since 2010 is a staggering 66 million.
Scientists say rarely is one culprit to blame for the escalation in the state’s tree deaths, and the resulting fire hazard. Rather, destruction on such a broad scale is nearly always the result of a complex convergence of threats to forest ecosystems.
Chief among them is a severe, sustained drought in the Sierra Nevada that is stressing trees and disabling their natural defenses. Climate change is raising temperatures, making for warmer winters. No longer kept in check by winter’s freeze, bark beetle populations are growing. Separately, a nonnative, potent plant pathogen is thriving in the moist areas of the North Coast, introduced to California soil by global trade. Opportunistic fungi are standing by, ready to finish the kill.
Factor in human shortcomings — poor or absent forest management, a failure to clear out ignitable dead wood, the darker temptation of arson, unchecked carelessness — and you have a lethal recipe." - But most of the several causes are directly related to global warming induced climate change.

      Tornadoes striking twice in 10 days in August 2016, in Indiana, might be an indication of a new climate change weather pattern, although it is too soon to say if it is a one time event or a new pattern. As a hotter Earth puts mote water in the air, more frequent tornadoes would be a likely result ("Are August tornadoes becoming more frequent?" USA Today Network. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star,August 26, 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/08/26/august-tornadoes-frequency/89394800/).

        Severe rain storms from tropical storm Earl, dumping as much as a month's rain in five hours, inundated the Mexican states of Puebla and Vera Cruz, August 8, 2016, causing flash floods and mud slides that killed hundreds of people, in the worst rain storm in half a century (Kirk Semple, "Sudden Storm Left Little Time to Flee Mudslides in Mexico," The New York Times, August 9, 2016).

     Grassroots International, "Haiti and Climate Change," October 1, 2016, https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5123/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=14374, reported, " As you may know our partners in Haiti are feeling the harsh effects of climate change in a very real way every single day. When I went to Haiti last summer I saw with my own eyes a rice field so dry that the earth was literally cracking and pulling apart. As a result farmers were unable to make a living growing rice. And this was meant to be Haiti’s rainy season.
I also heard from our partners that natural water sources are drying up all over in the Northwest. Since the government doesn’t provide any water infrastructure, people now must walk 6 or 7 hours a day to access water."

     As climate change has brought an increasing number of strong storms, though most often it is difficult to tell if any particular weather occurrence is the result of climate change , Haiti suffered tremendous damage, and likely loss of life, as Hurricane Matthew, with 145 MPH winds, became the worst natural event to strike the island nation since the 2010 earth quake. Initial reports indicated that at least 400 homes had been destroyed and several thousands of livestock had been killed. The threat of disease, particularly an expanded cholera epidemic, following the storm, was large. Hurricane Mathew was headed for the Atlantic coast of Florida and possibly north along the Atlantic coast to North Carolina, before heading out to sea. The rise in sea level makes such storms greater threats than previously (Azam Ahmed, "Hurricane Matthew Pummels Haiti and Moves Toward U.S.," The New York Times, October 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/world/americas/hurricane-matthew-caribbean.html?ref=todayspaper).
While it may never be known how many died in the near total devastation of some towns and rural areas of Haiti in Hurricane Mathew, by October 9, officially known and reported dead were well over 300 and could in fact be over 800 or even 1000.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Mathew passing offshore caused some damage in North Eastern Florida and on up through South Carolina, before swamping North Carolina for over 100 miles inland with massive amounts of rain. As of October 9, a number of rivers were at record high levels and flooding and were expected to stay high, perhaps becoming even higher, for at least several days. Some people said this was the worst flooding ever experienced in North Carolina (Jess Bidgood, Alan Blinder and Jonathan M. Katz, October 9, 2016, "North Carolina, Saturated and Surprised, Reels from Hurricane Matthew," The New York Times, October 9, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/us/north-carolina-saturated-and-surprised-reels-from-hurricane-matthew.html?ref=todayspaper).

     As a likely indicator of climate change, The English City of Carlisle has received three huge deluging storms since 2005 of a scale that previously occurred only once every 200 years ("Storms in Succession The New York Times, September 13, 2016).

     "Typhoon Haima Slams Into The Philippines," World Food Program, October 20, 2016, https://twitter.com/WFP_Philippines/status/788898345221783553, "Last night a Category 4 typhoon lashed the Philippines with 140 mile-per-hour winds, torrential rain and storm surges, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The storm left behind a broad path of debris, flooding, landslides and damage to homes and buildings.
One village official said it was the worst storm he’s ever experienced. 'I'm 60 years old, this is the strongest typhoon I have ever seen,' Willie Cabalteja told The Associated Press in the country’s Ilocos Sur province. 'We haven't slept. Trees were forced down, houses lost their roofs and fences and metal sheets were flying around all night.'
Yesterday's Super Typhoon Haima in the Philippines comes just weeks after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in need of emergency food assistance. Like Haiti, the Philippines is especially vulnerable to natural disasters. A changing climate means storms like these are becoming more frequent and intense. According to Reuters, Haima is the 12th typhoon to strike the island nation so far this year."

       In event previously unknown, lightning strikes in Norway wiped out an entire herd of more than 300 reindeer, in late August 2016 (Henrik Pryser Libell, "Lightning Strike Kills More Than 300 Reindeer in Norway," The New York Times, August 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/world/europe/hardangervidda-norway-lightning-reindeer.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0).

     Aleksander Dimshkovski, "A ‘Water Bomb’ of a Storm Kills 21 in Macedonia’s Capital, Skopje," The New York Times, August 7, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/world/asia/a-water-bomb-of-a-storm-kills-21-in-macedonias-capital-skopje.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " A freakishly violent rainstorm that Macedonia ’s top weather official called a "water bomb" ravaged Skopje during the weekend, collapsing streets, inundating vehicles and drowning trapped motorists and homeowners, most of them caught by surprise.
At least 21 people were killed and 77 injured in what officials described on Sunday as the worst flooding disaster in a half-century to hit Skopje, the Macedonian capital and a city of more than a half-million people in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula."

      An unusually powerful tornado created widespread damage in the Chinese City of Yancheng, killing at least 78 people and injuring over 500, in late June 2016 (Javier Hernandez, "Tornado Ravages Chinese City Killing at Least 78," The New York Times, June 27, 2016).

       Michael Forsythe and Kiki Zhao, "Flooding in Northern China Kills Scores," The New York Times, July 23, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/world/asia/china-flooding-rains-hebei.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Heavy rains this past week in northern China caused extensive flooding, overwhelming levees and killing at least 72 people in one province, with many others missing, state media reported.
The death toll in Xingtai, an industrial city in Hebei Province, rose sharply on Saturday, days after a wall of water descended on one village in the middle of the night with little or no warning, according to the Beijing News. In addition to the 25 people in Xingtai who were confirmed dead, 13 were missing."
Earlier in July, torrential rains in Southern China killed more than 200 people and displaced almost 2 million (Chris Buckley, "Widespread Flooding in China Kills 200 and Tests Leaders," The New York Times, July 9, 2016).

     "Deadly Floods in India Force 1.2 Million People From Homes," The New York Times, July 26, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/world/asia/india-floods-assam.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Heavy rains and floods have killed at least seven people and forced about 1.2 million in India to leave their waterlogged homes in the northeastern state of Assam."

     Lizette Alvarez and Francis Robles, "Intensified by Climate Change, ‘King Tides’ Change Ways of Life in Florida: King tides, which frequently flood South Florida even when the sun shines, are the most blatant example of the interplay between rising seas and the alignment of the moon, sun and Earth," The New York Times, November 17, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/us/intensified-by-climate-change-king-tides-change-ways-of-life-in-florida.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported on Fort Lauderdale, FL, "In an enclave of a city known as the Venice of America, where dream-big houses look out over a maze of picturesque canals, the comparison to the Venice of Italy no longer seems so appealing.
On Monday morning, shortly after November’s so-called supermoon dropped from view on Mola Avenue, it was easy to see why. The tide swelled on command. Seawater gurgled audibly up through manhole covers and seeped from the grass. Under a sunny sky, the water drowned docks and slid over low sea walls. By 8:15 a.m., peak tide, this street in the Las Olas Isles neighborhood was inundated, just like the Venice across the pond."
" In South Florida, which takes rising sea levels seriously enough to form a regional compact to deal with global warming , climate change is no abstract issue. By 2100, sea levels could swell high enough to submerge 12.5 percent of Florida’s homes . These so-called king tides , which happen frequently, are the most blatant example of the interplay between rising seas and the alignment of the moon, sun and Earth. Even without a drop of rain, some places flood routinely."

     Suhasini Raj, "Lightning in India Kills More Than 70, Mostly Farmworkers," The New York Times, June 22, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/world/asia/india-lightning-deaths-bihar-monsoon.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "Farmers in India have been fervently awaiting this year’s monsoon season after two consecutive years of inadequate rains. But they were ill prepared for the lightning.
In what may be a record, lightning strikes that punctuated the season’s inaugural heavy rains killed more than 70 people in India on Tuesday and Wednesday, disaster management officials said. Some reports in the Indian news media put the toll at nearly 100."

      The combination of drought and deforestation (that reduces the ability of the land to hold water) in Malawi threatens the water supply for the capital, Liongwe. In 2015, soldiers were posted in the national forest reserve 30 miles from the city to stop deforestation (Norimitsu Onshi, "Drought and Felled Trees Take a Toll at Makawe's Taps," The New York Times, August 21, 2016).

        "Earthweek: Diary of a Changing World, August 26, 2016," Albuquerque Journal, August 29, 2016, reported that: as a result of global warming, the Arctic Ocean is likely to be free of Ice in the summer by either 2017 or 2018. S torms earlier in 2016 brought down more than 100 trees in the forest in central Mexico where monarch butterflies spend the winter. Severe weather with heavy rain is reported to have killed 7% of the wintering butterflies. In the Antarctic, melting glaciers have put enough fresh water into the depths of the ocean so that it may be slowing down ocean water circulation there, which if it becomes sufficient, could change ocean currents, including those that bring warmer water to the edge of Antarctica. Tornadoes composed of millions of mosquitos have been observed in Russia, summer 2016. One such Mosqutnado was seen in Portugal, in 2014.

      Although the world's major banks have begun, slowly, to move away from financing deforestation, recent studies indicate that over the last few years they have continued to fund numerous very large projects that involve massive deforestation, including palm oil plantations. Some details are in Hiroko Tabuchi, "The Banks Putting Rain Forests in Peril," The New York Times, December 4, 2016.

     Suzanne Daley, "Peru Scrambles to Drive Out Illegal Gold Mining and Save Precious Land: A force of marines and rangers is outnumbered as it tries to protect the area anchored by the Tambopata reserve, one of the
most biologically diverse places on earth," The New York Times, July 25, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/world/americas/peru-illegal-gold-mining-latin-america.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "Trying to protect one of the most biologically diverse places on earth from an army of illegal miners that has carved a toxic path through the rain forest, the Peruvian government is setting up outposts and stepping up raids along the Malinowski River in the Tambopata Nature Reserve .
But some experts wonder whether it is far too little too late."
Friends of the Earth reported, June 21, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/foe.us/posts/10153550334992026, or https://org.salsalabs.com/o/455/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=10608&tag=web, "Friends of the Earth is forcing California utility giant PG&E to close the state’s last nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
On top of that, we got PG&E to agree to replace Diablo Canyon with renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Plus, we won support for Diablo Canyon’s workers in the transition to a clean-energy economy."

       Jonathan Soble, "Japan’s Nuclear Industry Finds a Lifeline in India After Foundering Elsewhere," The New York Times, November  11, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/business/international/japan-india-nuclear-deal.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "Despite objections from antinuclear campaigners, Japan’s government cleared the way on Friday for companies that build nuclear power plants to sell their technology to India — one of the few nations planning big expansions in atomic energy — by signing a cooperation agreement with the South Asian country.
The deal is a lifeline for the Japanese nuclear power industry, which has been foundering since meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in northeastern Japan in 2011. Plans to build a dozen new reactors in Japan were canceled after that, a gut punch for some of the country’s biggest industrial conglomerates, including Toshiba and Hitachi."

       Vivian Yee and Patrick McGeehan, "Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant to Close by 2021," The New York Times, January 6, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/nyregion/indian-point-nuclear-power-plant-shutdown.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, " The Indian Point nuclear plant will shut down by April 2021 under an agreement New York State reached this week with Entergy, the utility company that owns the facility in Westchester County, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal."

     Adam DeRose, "EPA Announces Plans to Begin Next Phase of Navajo Uranium Mine Cleanup," ICTMN, September 12, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/epa-announces-plans-to-begin-next-phase-of-navajo-uranium-mine-cleanup/, reported, " Federal officials took the first step this week toward a planned $1 billion cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in and around the Navajo Nation, seeking bids to assess the problem and begin planning the project.
The Environmental Protection Agency expects to use about $85 million for the planning, part of a nearly $1 billion settlement with Kerr-McGee Corp., later Tronox Inc., which operated mines in Arizona and New Mexico."

     Environmental Action, reported, July 12, 2016, "t wasn't that kind of bang: After an amazing week of action all over the country , we won a big victory in Baltimore (your author's home town), when Houston Big Oil pusher Targa Resources withdrew plans to ship volatile crude oil on so-called "Bomb Trains" through to the port.
It was a great way to wrap up the #StopOilTrains week of action that so many Environmental Action members have shown up or chipped in to support. Click here to see the report (including lots more photos and video from events) in our blog: http://environmental-action.org/blog/ban-the-bomb-trains-week-of-action-ends-with-a-bang/.
Our goal for the week was to raise awareness about the bomb trains -- shipments of crude oil and other fossil fuels by rail through United States and Canada. While some events were overshadowed by the bloody violence in Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota -- many more went forward as planned and delivered real results.
Our hashtag dominated Twitter on July 6, the anniversary of an oil train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. The Pacific Northwest has dominated headlines since a derailment in Oregon ignited a blaze that one of the first responders told Oregon Public Broadcasting "looked like the apocalypse."
But Bomb Trains run all across the United States, including through Houston, Chicago’s South Side and Philadelphia, where people of color are the majority. That’s why, our movement came together for the 3rd annual #StopOilTrains week of action — hosting dozens of events from coast to coast that showed the risk, called attention to the issues and demanded action."

       Lauren McCauley, "NASA Study Nails Fracking as Source of Massive Methane 'Hot Spot': The 2,500-square mile plume is said to be the largest concentration of the potent greenhouse gas in the country," Common Dreams , August 16, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/16/nasa-study-nails-fracking-source-massive-methane-hot-spot reported, " A NASA study released on Monday confirms that a methane "hot spot" in the Four Corners region of the American southwest is directly related to leaks from natural gas extraction, processing, and distribution.
The 2,500-square mile plume, first detected in 2003 and confirmed by NASA satellite data in October 2014, is said to be the largest concentration of atmospheric methane in the U.S. and is more than triple a standard ground-based estimate. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a highly-efficient greenhouse gas—84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and a significant contributor to global warming.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded primarily by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), surveyed industry sources including gas processing facilities, storage tanks, pipeline leaks, and well pads, as well as a coal mine venting shaft.
It found that leaks from only 10 percent of the individual methane sources are contributing to half of the emissions, confirming the scientists' suspicions that the mysterious hotspot was connected to the high level of fracking in the region.
There are more than 20,000 oil and gas wells operating in the San Juan Basin, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that overall annual gas production in the basin is as much as 1.3 trillion cubic feet, mostly from coal bed methane and shale formations.
'NASA's finding that the oil and gas industry is primarily responsible for the 'hot spot' is not surprising,' stated the Western Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm. 'In fact, the researchers found only one large source of methane not related to oil and gas operations: venting from the San Juan coal mine. This discovery renders attempts to point the finger at other potential emissions sources, like coal outcrops and landfills, definitively refuted.'
The study further underscores how problematic current estimates of methane emissions from oil and gas operations are.
'To estimate methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a process-based approach that assumes a normal distribution of emissions for each process used in extraction, processing, and distribution,   the authors wrote.    In reality, the flux distribution can be heavily skewed, resulting in a heavy-tailed distribution
The Western Environmental Law Center expressed concern over the unknown sources of the remaining 50 percent of emissions and took issue with the study's conclusion that mitigation will only require 'identifying and fixing a few emitters.'
'The other 50 percent of methane emissions in the region cannot be ignored, and mitigating field-wide emissions will require the oil and gas industry to cut emissions from all sources, large and small, if we are to eliminate New Mexico's 'hot spot,'' the group states.
Citing a recent report by energy consultants with ICF International, Ramon Alvarez, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, notes that industry operations in the region have "the worst record in the nation" for methane leaks. ' [V]enting, flaring, and leaks from oil and gas sites on federal and tribal land in New Mexico, alone, effectively threw away $100 million worth of gas in 2013,' Alvarez wrote.
Both the NASA study and Alvarez point to new methane standards under development by the Obama administration as being key to reducing these emissions. But environmentalists contend that while these rules are 'a welcome safeguard,' as 350.org executive director May Boeve recently put it , 'The only way to protect our communities from the risks of fracking, and stave off the worst impacts of climate change, is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.'"

         Jie Jenny Zou, Center for Public Integrity, "Hot Mess: States Struggle to Deal with Radioactive Fracking Waste: Potentially dangerous drilling byproducts are being dumped in landfills throughout the Marcellus Shale with few controls," Common Dreams, June 20, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/20/hot-mess-states-struggle-deal-radioactive-fracking-waste," reported,
This story was produced in collaboration with the Ohio Valley ReSource , a public media partnership covering Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
The Marcellus Shale has transformed the Appalachian Basin into an energy juggernaut. Even amid a recent drilling slowdown, regional daily production averages enough natural gas to power more than 200,000 U.S. homes for a year.
But the rise of hydraulic fracturing over the past decade has created another boom: tons of radioactive materials experts call an 'orphan' waste stream. No federal agency fully regulates oil and gas drilling byproducts — which include brine, sludge, rock and soiled equipment — leaving tracking and handling to states that may be reluctant to alienate energy interests.
'Nobody can say how much of any type of waste is being produced, what it is, and where it’s ending up,' said Nadia Steinzor of the environmental group Earthworks, who co-wrote a report on shale waste. (Earthworks has received funding from The Heinz Endowments, as has the Center for Public Integrity).
The group is among several suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate drilling waste under a federal system that tracks hazardous materials from creation to final disposal, or 'cradle to grave.' The EPA declined to comment on the lawsuit but is scheduled to file a response in court by early July.
Geologists have long known soil and rock contain naturally occurring radioactive materials that can become concentrated through activities like fracking, in which sand and chemicals are pumped thousands of feet underground to release oil and gas from tight rock. But concerns about fracking largely have focused on injection wells and seismic activity , with less attention paid to 'hot' waste that arrives at landfills and sets off radiation alarms.
An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity shows that states are struggling to keep pace with this waste stream, relying largely on industry to self-report and self-regulate. States have also been slow to assess and curb risks from exposure to the waste, which can remain radioactive for millennia. Excessive radiation exposure can increase cancer risks; radon gas, for example, has been tied to lung cancer.
The four states in the Marcellus are taking different approaches to the problem; none has it under control. Pennsylvania has increasingly restricted disposal of drilling waste, while West Virginia allows some landfills to take unlimited amounts. Ohio has yet to formalize waste rules, despite starting the process in 2013. New York, which banned fracking, accepts drilling waste with little oversight.
Inconsistencies have raised concerns among regulators and activists that waste is being 'shopped around' by companies seeking the path of least resistance, or unsafely reused. In March, Kentucky’s attorney general opened an investigation into two landfills he alleged illegally accepted radioactive drilling waste from West Virginia. A separate investigation is ongoing at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, where officials exchanged emails about whether landfill workers and schoolchildren might have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.
Bill Kennedy, a radiation expert at the consulting firm Dade Moeller, called radioactive drilling waste 'virtually unregulated' and said consistent standards are needed to 'protect workers, protect the general public, protect the environment.'
Kennedy co-chairs a committee working with regulators and industry to develop guidelines and recommendations for states. 'You can’t rely on industry to go it alone and self-regulate,' he said.
While radiation emitted from fracking waste may pale in comparison to that from nuclear power plant waste, Steinzor said regulators don’t know the cumulative impacts of landfilling the loads over time. 'There’s been such a push to expand the industry and to drill as much as possible,' she said. 'No one has had the desire or political will to slow the industry down long enough to figure out what the risks truly are.'
Race to the bottom
Trucks rolling into West Virginia landfills grind to a near halt as they pass fixed poles — monitors — that detect radiation above a set threshold. If the monitors go off, drivers reverse and pass through them again. After a second alarm, landfill staff members check drivers and trucks with hand-held detectors.
An emergency state law required landfills to install the monitors in 2015 and submit reports detailing any alarms to West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health and Human Resources within 24 hours.
More than 70 alarms have been reported since, but what happened to the waste after they were set off is unclear. The reports routinely lack basic information, such as whether the waste was accepted or rejected, where it came from and how much of it there was.
One report, for example, shows the landfill in Wetzel County, West Virginia, took in 14 tons of industrial bag filters from an unknown source in April 2015. The filters weren’t labeled as drilling waste but contained radium 226, an isotope associated with fracking.
Landfills must reject waste that exceeds state radium limits, yet the amount of radium in the filters was left blank on that form and every other alarm report generated in 2015. Radium 226 remains radioactive for thousands of years, breaking down into gases such as radon.
After the Center contacted the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection about inconsistent or missing information in the reports, officials reviewed the records and acknowledged 'discrepancies.' They said they plan to work with state health officials to overhaul the reporting process, including revising the single-page form so it captures more useful information. Such efforts seem warranted: The health department, as a matter of practice, said it has been throwing away the reports it receives. A spokesman declined to comment further.
Scott Mandirola, waste director at the Department of Environmental Protection, said West Virginia regulators are doing their best to keep up with the fracking industry by collaborating with their counterparts in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 'Everybody's dealing with it differently,' he said, pointing out widely held concerns that one state will become the preferred dumping ground. 'It was obvious there was waste being shopped around.'
Bill Hughes, who sits on the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, doubts the state will enact or enforce rules that burden industry. West Virginia is not going to do anything that Pennsylvania and Ohio are not required to do, he said.
Last year, the Department of Environmental Protection conducted its first environmental analysis of potential impacts from landfilling drill cuttings. The report, which was mandated by the state Legislature, looked at the threat of groundwater pollution from the leaching of radioactive materials through soil and found 'little concern.'
Hughes said it was the first time state legislators had openly acknowledged that drilling waste was more than just dirt and rock and could pose a radiation hazard. The report noted that before the waste was hauled to landfills, oil and gas companies simply buried it in pits on well-pad sites.
Twisting in the wind
On windy days, grit gathers on Toni Bazala’s home in South Huntingdon Township, 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, staining her white shutters black. A chain-link fence separates her property from the Yukon landfill 200 feet away.
'We look like we’re in a desert,' said Bazala, 74. The black dust from the landfill, she said, is like 'an acid that goes down your throat.'
Max Environmental Technologies, Inc., which runs Yukon and another nearby site, has footed the bills for annual cleanings of her house’s exterior and paid for a new air conditioner, she said.
The company recently surprised Bazala and her husband with a legal waiver restricting them from speaking publicly about the cleanings in court, or to state and federal regulators. "What it amounted to was, ‘If you don’t sign this paper, you don’t get your house pressure-washed.’"
The retired couple refused to sign and has no plans to leave. 'I wouldn’t even dream of selling my house,' Bazala said. 'We don’t have much, but what we have is ours.'
Former township supervisor Mel Cornell said relocation isn’t an option many can afford. He spent years inspecting Yukon, often raising concerns about radiation measured on site, but quit and retired early to Florida last year. 'They can’t clean people’s bodies when they breathe that in,' Cornell said of the dust. On at least one occasion, he said, he vomited while inspecting the landfill because the stench was so overpowering.
The township has repeatedly sued Max Environmental for producing a strong odor Cornell called 'burnt cement,' which began in 2013 when Yukon started accepting drilling waste. The company has tried masking the odor with a bubblegum-scented deodorizer and paid a $10,000 fine to the township in monthly $25 installments.
Township residents say penalties have failed to spur lasting improvements or quash Yukon’s expansion plans. Yukon has been inspected more than 200 times for solid waste issues since March 2013, racking up more than $200,000 in fines. The company admitted to odor and other violations in an August consent decree with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Max Environmental’s Carl Spadaro, who previously worked for the department, declined to be interviewed but wrote in an email to the Center that the company has "shown time and time again that we strive to operate in compliance." Homes have been pressure-cleaned 'for many years to remove pollen, mildew and staining,' he wrote. When asked about the waiver Bazala refused to sign, Spadaro added, 'We suggested to a neighbor that to continue this service, an acknowledgement of the reason for the service would be appropriate.'
Pennsylvania regulators have increasingly restricted disposal of radioactive waste, instituting monthly intake limits on landfills. But the rules keep changing. Sludge, which is left over from drilling waste processed by treatment plants, is considered highly concentrated and radioactive. But the state has gone back and forth on exactly how much of it landfills can take from one year to the next.
In a panel discussion last year, Spadaro called Pennsylvania’s protocols 'rather stringent,
 saying they force landfills like Yukon to scale back the waste it takes. Landfills in the state maxed out monthly radioactive waste caps at least 87 times last year, often forcing haulers to try elsewhere.
But some haulers can be persistent. In January, a driver was caught trying to dispose of the same load from a northeastern Pennsylvania well pad three times at the same landfill in one day.
Gregg Macey, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, reviewed hundreds of Department of Environmental Protection emails and other documents obtained in an open-records request by Earthjustice, an environmental law group. His report highlighted the agency’s growing confusion over increasing numbers of radiation alarms at landfills and mislabeled waste.
Emails from 2010 to 2013 show regulators reviewed records and found waste taken by landfills that should have gone to out-of-state facilities equipped to handle low-level radioactive debris. Officials also expressed concern that landfill operators didn’t fully grasp how to handle the new waste stream.
'We need a statewide guidance on the handling, sampling and protocol and we need it yesterday not a year from now,' a state employee wrote in the fall of 2012, signing his email, 'frustrated in the field.' In 2013, an employee commenting on a backlog of waste awaiting state review, wrote, 'We need to find a solution for this and it sure isn’t allowing the boxes to pile up.'
None of these concerns was mentioned in a highly anticipated report by the Department of Environmental Protection last year that found 'little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.' The study was quickly championed by energy interests.
Some, however, have questioned the study’s methodology and the impartiality of its author, Perma-Fix Environmental Services, a nuclear waste contractor. The state works closely with Perma-Fix to assess landfill radiation risks 1,000 years in the future.
'We have evolved since 2013,' said state waste and radiation director Ken Reisinger, insisting there is 'plenty of space' in Pennsylvania for drilling waste. 'We have continued to refine our science and we continued to question ourselves on the protocols.'
Steinzor, with Earthworks, said that without a federal tracking system, states have no reliable way of ensuring waste isn’t being illegally dumped. Pennsylvania regulators were able to pinpoint final burial locations for a third of nearly 300 loads rejected in 2015, but two-thirds remain unaccounted for.
Critic under fire
Bill Hughes has sat on the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority in West Virginia for 15 years — five as chairman — but he has a feeling this year will be his last.
A staunch fracking critic, Hughes has spoken out against the dumping of radioactive drilling waste alongside household trash in municipal landfills.
Located at the base of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle, Wetzel County has become a prime destination for out-of-state drilling waste. Hughes, 71, concedes that he’s "made a lot of noise" about the dumping of such waste in the county’s 238-acre landfill; since 2012 it’s outpaced the intake of all other garbage combined.
In February Hughes, a retired electrician who belongs to the Heinz-funded FracTracker Alliance, was sued by the landfill’s operator, Lackawanna Transport Company. Lackawanna is seeking damages that "could be in excess of $1 million," claiming Hughes illegally invoked his chairmanship of the waste authority to temporarily block the company from building a separate, lined surface pit for drilling waste in 2013.
Nearly 100 public commenters raised concerns about the pit — known as a cell — which would allow Wetzel to accept an unlimited amount of drilling waste. West Virginia does not count such waste as part of Wetzel’s monthly cap of 9,999 tons, which is meant to conserve space and limit the life of the landfill. Wetzel has already taken 650,000 tons of drilling waste since 2013.
Further south, in Harrison County, Meadowfill Landfill sought approval for a similar cell in 2013 and won easy approval. That landfill has gone on to become the state’s top disposer of drilling waste, taking in nearly 900,000 tons since 2013, including loads deemed too radioactive for Pennsylvania .
News of the million-dollar lawsuit against Hughes rattled the Wetzel authority’s volunteer members, who had bickered with him about mounting legal costs associated with fighting the proposed cell. In March, they told the authority’s lawyers to withdraw official opposition to it, and a state commission approved it a short time later.
Authority members are unpaid, but the authority itself and its popular county recycling program are funded largely by landfill fees, creating potential conflicts of interest, Hughes said. His term on the authority expires in July.
‘Wild West’ in Ohio
Rachelle Quigg and her son had a rude awakening one summer night in 2014 when a neighbor’s property in Hammondsville, Ohio, was invaded by large yellow tanks and humming trucks.
'It was like the most bizarre thing ever,' Quigg said, describing trucks noisily pulling in and out at all hours of the night. She said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sent an inspector in February 2015 only after she and others complained to a television news crew. 'It seemed like they had too much to deal with; they couldn't bother.'
A month later, officials ordered the company responsible, Anchor Drilling Fluids USA Inc., to shut down and clean up the property, which it did in July 2015. The company was not penalized outside of being ordered to close the site.
In lieu of issuing permits, the state has allowed more than 40 facilities to handle and treat drilling waste under a temporary authorization process since 2014. Some applications were approved the same day they were submitted — unlike permits, which require public comment and various stages of review.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Eric Heis said companies consult with state engineers prior to filing applications, which shortens review times. Temporary authorizations are granted without public comment.
Under Gov. John Kasich , the department has drawn criticism for being deferential to industry. A 2012 memo detailed joint plans by the department and Kasich’s office to rally support for fracking by undercutting "environmental-activist opponents, who are skilled propagandists." The memo singled out opponents, including the Sierra Club and Democratic legislators, and potential allies such as Halliburton and other energy and business interests. The plans were never carried out.
Melanie Houston of the Ohio Environmental Council said rulemaking efforts have moved at a snail’s pace, creating a "Wild West" milieu. Proposed guidelines would require landfill operators to install radiation monitors and report alarms to health officials and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which shares authority with the Department of Natural Resources.
The Ohio EPA began the rulemaking process in 2013, but has yet to approve any rules. Statewide, six landfills reported accepting 583,000 tons of drilling waste in 2013. In 2014, eight landfills reported taking in nearly double that amount.
Emails obtained by the Center through an open-records request show state officials struggled to coordinate response to an alarm last July triggered by drilling "filter socks" in East Sparta that were emitting roughly 200 times the state’s radiation limit. The socks, which separate liquid and solid drilling waste, were picked up unknowingly by a residential garbage truck. The waste was shipped to a Utah nuclear waste site in October, since it was too radioactive for a much closer facility in Michigan.
Dumping in New York
Like Ohio, New York is mulling new rules. In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced proposed regulations requiring landfills to install radiation monitors and lower the radioactivity of disposed waste. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservationis accepting public comments through the summer.
The proposals come a year after an Environmental Advocates of New York report claimed thousands of tons of fracking waste were being landfilled upstate. 'There were a lot of residents pretty outraged,' said report author Elizabeth Moran.
When the state’s fracking ban took effect in 2014, Cuomo cited health officials who called potential risks, such as water contamination from radioactive waste, 'too great' to bear.
But data show seven New York landfills have accepted at least 460,000 tons of solid fracking waste since 2010, according to Moran. The numbers, based on self-reported estimates from oil and gas companies operating in Pennsylvania, are incomplete.
They don’t reflect, for example, Pennsylvania fracking waste that was processed by a New Jersey landfill and later sent to Staten Island in New York City. Records obtained by Delaware Riverkeeper in 2014 showed the treated drilling waste was used in 2011 to cover the Brookfield Avenue Landfill , an illegal dumping ground that was shuttered in the 1980s and is undergoing a $240 million cleanup.
Lacking confidence in the state, several New York counties have banned fracking waste disposal, while a bill outlawing the dumping, use or sale of all fracking byproducts is being considered by the New York City Council .
Moran suspects many New Yorkers don’t know that radioactive waste is being scattered in the state.
'We banned fracking," she said, "so people don’t think we’re part of this dirty process.'"

      A series of earthquakes in Alberta from 2011-16 have been found to have been caused directly by fracking, as a result of pressure increases, first from injecting fracking fluids, and then from their remaining in the ground (Henry Fountain, In Alberta, a Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes," The New York Times, November 18, 2016).

     The Sierra Club reported and commented, December 4, 2016, https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0061792&id=70131000001DgkgAAC&data=af74bb7938539fa1a4343fadf9e1765827001e2baab7cb6dd9869dbd09dbe90d5032833c10adaedda207f87878818561&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sierraclub&utm_campaign=beyondoil&utm_content=DAPL, " The Obama administration just announced that it will not grant the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline! Instead, the Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an environmental review and explore alternate routes for the project, away from the Missouri River crossing which would impact Tribal land and cultural resources.
Take action: Thank the Obama administration for listening to the Water Protectors' call for an environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Under this announcement, Energy Transfer Partners must stop construction of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux's ancestral homelands until an environmental review has been conducted that includes public input.
The fight to reject the Dakota Access Pipeline isn't over and we aren't going to back down until this pipeline is rejected once and for all, but the administration's announcement today ensures Energy Transfer Partners can't continue its assault on the Standing Rock Sioux's ancestral homelands. This couldn't have happened without the Standing Rock Sioux and the Water Protectors standing up for what's right and solidarity from millions of Americans. Sierra Club supporters like you made an unprecedented 20,000 calls and sent 115,000 letters to the White House last month alone on this issue."
"Over the past few months, thousands of people and hundreds of Tribes from around the world have traveled to North Dakota to peacefully support the Standing Rock Sioux and oppose this dangerous pipeline. Their prayers and songs were increasingly met by a militarized police force using dogs, water cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray, concussion grenades, and other tactics designed to intimidate, antagonize and invoke fear. This weekend more than 2,000 veterans traveled to the camps to show their support for Standing Rock and serve as self-proclaimed 'human shields.'
" History has taught us that it's never a question whether a pipeline will spill, rather a question of when, and a comprehensive environmental review will show that this dirty and dangerous project will threaten the safety of every community it cuts through. The 1,168-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, if completed, would carry 450,000 barrels of fracked oil every day through four states. It would cut through communities, farms, sensitive natural areas, wildlife habitat, and tribal lands like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ancestral lands. It would also cross under the Missouri River just upstream of the Tribe's drinking water supply, where a spill would mean a serious threat to the Tribe's health, culture, and way of life."  

       International Indian Treaty Council, "United Nations expert Grand Chief Edward John will visit Standing Rock to gather information on Human Rights Violations Resulting from Pipeline Construction," October 28, 2016, http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/1383891/01805cf6b0/545546365/aa063f1824/, reported, "On Saturday October 29th, 2016 Grand Chief Edward John, member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will arrive in North Dakota, USA at the invitation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault. As a United Nations (UN) expert, he will be visiting in his official capacity to observe the continued impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction such as threats to water, Treaty rights and sacred areas. He will also collect information and testimonies on the escalating levels of repression, violence and intimidation against Tribal members and their supporters by state law enforcement, private security and the National Guard which have been widely reported on social and other media. Roberto Borrero representing the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) will accompany him as a human rights observer. IITC Board member William Means of the Oglala Lakota Nation is already on site.
The pipeline would carry nearly half a billion barrels of crude oil a day, and would cross the Missouri River threatening the Tribe’s main water source and sacred places along its path including burials sites. IITC and the SRST submitted two joint urgent actions to the UN Human Rights system, including four UN Special Rapporteurs, in August and September of this year. The submission highlighted a number of human rights violations and requested that these UN human rights mandate holders call upon the United States to uphold its commitments under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty.
Grand Chief Edward John has been an Indigenous expert member of the UNPFII from North America for the past 6 years. He is a hereditary Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation from British Columbia Canada. Roberto Mukaro Borrero is a member of the IITC Board of Directors representing the United Confederation of Taino People, based in the Caribbean and serves as IITC’s UN Programs and Communications Coordinator.
Grand Chief John expressed his reasons for carrying out this visit as a UN expert focusing on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
'The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has been following this situation and issued a statement of concern on August 31st, 2016. Indigenous Peoples human and Treaty right to water, protection of sacred sites, and right to free prior and informed consent before development is carried out affecting their territories, and the protection of Indigenous human and environmental rights defenders are all areas that the Permanent Forum has prioritized. These are all matters of concern in the current developments occurring in North Dakota United States as a result of the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline. As a member of the Permanent Forum, I will be traveling to North Dakota tomorrow at the invitation of the Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault to further observe and investigate the situation there, including the increase in law enforcement and military in the areas along with over a hundred arrests and other forms of violence that have been reported. I will report my findings back to the Permanent Forum and I hope to be able play a role in making recommendations to all parties that respect the rights the affirmed in UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the United States now supports.'
The Sioux Tribe (SRST) has also extended an invitation to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of indigenous Peoples, which is currently in process.
A primary concern expressed by the SRST is the potential devastating effects on the Missouri River, its primary water source. In his letter inviting Grand Chief Edward John dated today, October 28th, 2016 Chairman Archambault expressed the urgency of the situation facing the Tribe:'Currently, we are experiencing violence and intimidation from state law enforcement, private security as well as the North Dakota National Guard which are moving to forcibly remove us from our encampment located on unceded Treaty lands. Over 120 arrests have been made in the last two days, and tear gas, mace, compression grenades and other forms of violence have been used against tribal members and our supporters representing over 300 US Native Nations who are peacefully protecting our human, environmental, and cultural and Treaty rights. Our Tribe can no longer sacrifice our sacred water, our graves and our Mother Earth, and our future generations for the financial gain of private industry which has shown no regard for our rights or concerns .'
For more information contact: Andrea Carmen, andrea@treatycouncil.com, (520)273-6003 or Roberto Borrero, IITC Communications Coordinator, communications@treatycouncil.org, (917) 334-5658."
(See also reports on Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline in Environmental Activities, above).

        As of the end of October, Sue Skalcky ad Monica Davey, "Tension Between Police and Standing Rock Protesters Reaches Boiling Point," The New York Times, October, 28, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/dakota-access-pipeline-protest.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " For months, tensions had mounted between protesters and law enforcement officials over the fate of an oil pipeline not far from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Late this week, the strained relations boiled over as officers tried to force the protesters out of an area where they had been camping.
Scores of officers dressed in riot gear walked in a wide line, sweeping protesters out of the area as face-to-face yelling matches broke out. Several vehicles, including at least one truck, were set ablaze. A standoff unfolded beside a bridge known as the Backwater Bridge, where protesters set fire to wooden boards and signs and held off the line of officers over many hours.
By Friday evening, officers said they had arrested at least 142 protesters on charges including engaging in a riot and conspiracy to endanger by fire and explosion. Protesters gathered near the bridge were refusing to leave, the authorities said.
Each side complained vehemently about violent tactics by the other. Officers said that protesters had attacked them with firebombs, logs, feces and debris. They acknowledged using pepper spray and beanbag rounds against the protesters, as well as a high-pitched sound device meant to disperse crowds."
"The confrontation has been brewing for months as Energy Transfer Partners tries to finish construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is to carry oil 1,170 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. Company officials contend that the pipeline will be a safer way to transfer oil. But Native Americans and environmental activists, many of whom have gathered here, say the $3.7 billion pipeline threatens the region’s water supply and would harm sacred cultural lands and tribal burial grounds.
Even as crews here were continuing construction of the pipeline along private lands, all sides were awaiting a review by the Army Corps of Engineers on a crucial stretch of the proposed path, through Army Corps land and under the Missouri River."
" Protesters were not being asked to evacuate a second, larger camp that they have set up on federal land, a few miles away. The authorities said those who were swept off the private land would be permitted to stay in the second camp.
But tribal leaders said the land in question was tribal land, and called on federal authorities to step in and oversee the actions of local law enforcement — particularly given Thursday’s sweep, which brought the total number of protesters arrested since August to 411."
The "private land" in question is within the boundaries of lands that two treaties between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the U.S. government sets out as Standing Sioux land. But the government has not adhered to those treaties concerning the reservation boundary.

     "UN Denounces Abuse of Free Assembly Rights for Water Protectors Standing Against DAPL," ICMN, November 17, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/un-denounces-abuse-of-free-assembly-rights-for-water-protectors-standing-against-dapl/, reported, " The militarized response to water protectors’ efforts to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through sacred burial grounds and underneath a key water source constitutes 'excessive force' that is directly at odds with the right to assemble peacefully, a key United Nations expert has ruled.
The use of 'rubber bullets, teargas, mace, compression grenades and bean-bag rounds while expressing concerns over environmental impact and trying to protect burial grounds and other sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe' should in itself stop the pipeline’s construction, said the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement on November 15.
Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said that depriving arrestees of basic necessities during their lockup infringes on their human rights. So does lumping those who were taking peaceful action in with those whose actions veered toward the more aggressive, he said.
'Marking people with numbers and detaining them in overcrowded cages, on the bare concrete floor, without being provided with medical care, amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment,' said Kiai in the UN statement. 'The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an individual right, and it cannot be taken away indiscriminately or en masse due to the violent actions of a few.'
Kiai added his voice to two others from the UN, as well as echoed demands from the U.S. government that Energy Transfer Partners stop work around Lake Oahe.
'I call on the Pipeline Company to pause all construction activity within 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe,' declared the Special Rapporteur."

       Embridge Energy terminated its plan to build the Sandpiper crude oil Pipeline in Northern Minnesota, in September 2016 ("Embridge Energy drops plans for Sandpiper crude oil Pipeline through Northern Minnesota," NFIC, September 2016).

        Deirdre Fulton, " Fatigue, Migraines Linked to Fracking as Case Builds for National Ban: 'It is abundantly clear that fracking is harming people, and the only solution is to stop fracking'," Common Dreams , " Thursday, August 25, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/25/fatigue-migraines-linked-fracking-case-builds-national-ban, reported, " 13 Comments
New research published Thursday links severe fatigue and migraine headaches to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, leading to renewed calls for a ban on the controversial oil and gas extraction method .
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported their findings online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, saying their research adds to "a growing body of evidence linking the fracking industry to health problems."
The study was based on a survey of 7,785 adult primary care patients of the Geisinger Health System, a healthcare provider that covers 40 counties in north and central Pennsylvania. With the Marcellus Shale running below most of Pennsylvania, the northeastern and southwestern parts of the state have become ground zero for drilling.
According to a press statement from Johns Hopkins, the researchers found that 1,765 respondents (23 percent) suffered from migraines; 1,930 people (25 percent) experienced severe fatigue; and 1,850 (24 percent) had current symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis, defined as three or more months of nasal and sinus symptoms.
The researchers then used publicly available well data to estimate participants' exposure to the fracking industry—accounting for both the size and number of wells, as well as the distance between wells and people's homes. 'While no single health condition was associated with proximity to active wells, those who met criteria for two or more of the health conditions were nearly twice as likely to live closer to more or larger wells,' they reported.
'These three health conditions can have debilitating impacts on people's lives,' said study author Aaron W. Tustin, a resident physician in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Bloomberg School. 'In addition, they cost the health care system a lot of money. Our data suggest these symptoms are associated with proximity to the fracking industry.'
And while the study proves correlation, not causation, senior author Brian S. Schwartz, a physician and environmental epidemiologist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the New York Times, 'there have now been seven or eight studies with different designs and in different populations, and while none is perfect, there is now a growing body of evidence that this industry is associated with impacts on health that are biologically plausible. Do we know the exact mechanism? No. That requires further study.'
In fact, noted Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter on Thursday, ' this is the third study released by Hopkins in the past year that connects proximity to fracking sites with adverse health outcomes. Last fall, researchers found an association between fracking and premature births and high-risk pregnancies , and last month, found ties between fracking and asthma .'
'While the industry will no doubt continue to refute the expanding science about the dangers of fracking, we can't afford to ignore it,' said Hauter, who is a vocal proponent of a national fracking ban. 'The public health and climate impacts of extreme fossil fuel extraction requires bold leadership to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition swiftly to renewable energy.'
Indeed, said Diane Sipe, Pennsylvania resident and steering committee member of Pennsylvanians Against Fracking: 'Enough is enough.'
'It is abundantly clear that fracking is harming people, and the only solution is to stop fracking,' Sipe declared. 'The people in this state do not deserve to be put in harm's way by leaders who are choosing to ignore the dangers of fracking and related infrastructure. It is time for Governor [Tom] Wolf to follow the example set in New York, and put the well-being of his constituents above the profits of the oil and gas industry and ban fracking in Pennsylvania once and for all.'
A separate study, also published Thursday, found that prenatal exposure to fracking chemicals may threaten fertility in female mice.
'The evidence indicates that developmental exposure to fracking and drilling chemicals may pose a threat to fertility in animals and potentially people,' said the study's senior author, Susan C. Nagel of the University of Missouri. 'Negative outcomes were observed even in mice exposed to the lowest dose of chemicals, which was lower than the concentrations found in groundwater at some locations with past oil and gas wastewater spills.'
She added: 'These findings build on our previous research, which found exposure to the same chemicals was tied to reduced sperm counts in male mice. Our studies suggest adverse developmental and reproductive health outcomes might be expected in humans and animals exposed to chemicals in regions with oil and gas drilling activity.'"

     Niraj Chokshi and Henry Fountain,    "Oklahoma Orders Shutdown of Wells After Record-Tying Earthquake, The New York Times, September 3, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/us/earthquake-ties-record-for-strongest-in-oklahoma-history.html?ref=todayspaper, reported that in Oklahoma, where numerous earthquakes have been found to be caused by injecting waste water from fracking into deep wells, at the beginning of September, " Oklahoma officials on Saturday ordered oil and gas operators to shut down three dozen wastewater disposal wells following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that tied a record as the strongest in state history.
The quake, centered near Pawnee, rattled the state just after 8 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, tying a record set in 2011 for the strongest such tremor in Oklahoma history, according to the National Weather Service.
Local officials reported moderate to severe damage and at least one nonlife-threatening injury."
"Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County. She said on Twitter that crews inspecting bridges for damage found few in need of repair.
The United States Geological Survey recorded later earthquakes of magnitudes 3.6, 3.4 and 2.9. The first quake was felt as far away as Chicago and Austin, Tex.
Thousands of earthquakes have hit Oklahoma in recent years. Most have been imperceptible, but the number that can be felt — generally of magnitude 3.0 and higher — has risen significantly. Only three earthquakes of that size or stronger were recorded in 2009. Last year, the state had 907 such quakes. So far this year, there have been more than 400."
Kristi Eaton , "Oklahoma’s Largest Earthquake Shuts Down Osage, Pawnee Nation," ICTMN, September 8, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/oklahomas-largest-earthquake-shuts-down-osage-pawnee-nation/, reported, " Operators of 17 disposal wells in the Osage Nation have agreed to shut down operations following a 5.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend, a move that will help keep people safe but could affect the tribe’s economy, the chairman of the Osage Nation Minerals Council said."

     Ian Urbina, "A Model for ‘Clean Coal’ Runs Off the Tracks:" A Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay, The New York Times, July 5, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/science/kemper-coal-mississippi.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, "The fortress of steel and concrete towering above the pine forest here is a first-of-its-kind power plant that was supposed to prove that "clean coal" was not an oxymoron — that it was possible to produce electricity from coal in a way that emits far less pollution, and to turn a profit while doing so.
The plant was not only a central piece of the Obama administration’s climate plan. it was also supposed to be a model for future power plants to help slow the dangerous effects of global warming. The project was hailed as a way to bring thousands of jobs to Mississippi, the nation’s poorest state, and to extend a lifeline to the dying coal industry.
The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational."
Lauren McCauley, "Damning Probe Finds EPA 'Turning Blind Eye' to Toxic Chemical Cocktails: Despite the EPA's claims, information on dangerous synergistic effects is publicly available. In fact, the agro-giants collected it themselves," Common Dreams, July 19, 2016," reported, " While the use of one toxic chemical—on our foods, lawns, and elsewhere—has its inherent risks, scientists warn that the combination of two or more such ingredients in common pesticides could have an even more noxious impact, one which is commonly overlooked.
In fact, an investigation released Tuesday by the environmental watchdog Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) found that over the past six years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved nearly 100 pesticide products that contain these so-called "synergistic" compounds, effectively "increasing the dangers to imperiled pollinators and rare plants."
As CBD explains, '[s]ynergy occurs when two or more chemicals interact to enhance their toxic effects,' turning "what would normally be considered a safe level of exposure into one that results in considerable harm.'
'The EPA is supposed to be the cop on the beat, protecting people and the environment from the dangers of pesticides. With these synergistic pesticides, the EPA has decided to look the other way, and guess who's left paying the price?' asked Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center and author of the report, Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails (pdf).
One toxic cocktail that has gotten some attention is Dow AgroScience's Enlist Duo, which contains two of the most commonly used pesticides in the nation: 2,4-D and glyphosate. The EPA approved the product in October 2014 but revoked the license after discovering a patent application in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Database that warned of synergistic toxicity to plants.
Following the lead of the EPA, Donley analyzed the patent database for other recent pesticide products approved by the EPA for agrochemical giants, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, and Syngenta.
According to Donley, among the key findings are:
69 percent of these products (96 out of 140) had at least one patent application that claimed or demonstrated synergy between the active ingredients in the product;
72 percent of the identified patent applications that claimed or demonstrated synergy involved some of the most highly used pesticides in the United States, including glyphosate, atrazine, 2,4-D, dicamba and the neonicotinoids thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin, among others.
As the research notes, another example of a common pesticide that has proven synergy but that the EPA has failed to cross-examine for compounded impacts are bee-harming neonicotinoids.
'It's alarming to see just how common it's been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment,' Donley said.
'It's pretty clear that chemical companies knew about these potential dangers, but the EPA never bothered to demand this information from them or dig a little deeper to find it for themselves,' he added.
Andre Leu, an organic farmer based in Australia and president of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), has done extensive research on the subject of synergistic compounds.
In Leu's 2014 report The Myths of Safe Pesticides (pdf), he states unequivocally that it is a 'myth' that pesticide formulations are 'rigorously tested.'
Leu writes: 'Given that the other chemical ingredients are chemically active as they are added to the formations to make the active ingredient work more effectively, the assumption that they are inert and will not increase the toxicity of the whole formulation lacks scientific credibility. The limited scientific testing of formulated pesticide products shows that they can be hundreds of times more toxic to humans than the pure single active ingredient.'
Donley said that 'the EPA has turned a blind eye for far too long to the reality that pesticide blends can have dangerous synergistic effects. Now that we know about all the data that are out there, the EPA must take action to ensure that wildlife and the environment are protected from these chemical cocktails.'"

      Nadia Prupis, " Greenpeace: 'Extremely High' Jump in Post-Fukushima Radioactive Chemicals: Concerns are 'both ongoing and future threats, principally the continued releases from the Fukushima No. 1 plant itself and translocation of land-based contamination'," Common Dreams , July 21, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/21/greenpeace-extremely-high-jump-post-fukushima-radioactive-chemicals, reported, " Japan reported Thursday that waterways in the Fukushima district have hundreds of times more radiation now than before 2011, when the nuclear disaster that forced the evacuation of at least 160,000 people occurred.
Looking back at the past five years, the environmental group's new report, Atomic Depths: An assessment of freshwater and marine sediment contamination: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster—Five years later (pdf), finds that the hazardous chemical cesium-137 was present in the soil on the banks of the Abukuma, Niida, and Ota rivers.
'The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,' said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. 'These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe.'
The report states:
Fukushima prefecture and neighboring prefectures have a number of major and minor river systems that flow from contaminated upland forests to coastal plains, and ultimately empty into the Pacific Ocean. These river systems, in particular the Abukuma, Naruse, Nanakita, Natori, Kuji, and Naka, as well other smaller river systems including the Mano, Nitta, Ota, and Ukedo, have catchments of thousands of square kilometers.
'The radiological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the marine environment, with consequences for both human and nonhuman health, are not only the first years. They are both ongoing and future threats, principally the continued releases from the Fukushima No. 1 plant itself and translocation of land-based contamination throughout Fukushima Prefecture, including upland forests, rivers, lakes and coastal estuaries,' the report continues.
Lake Biwa is a particularly contentious site, as it provides drinking water for about 14 million people in the Kansai region, the Japan Times reports.
Kansai Electric Power Co. wants to restart nuclear reactors in the nearby Fukui Prefecture, while residents in the area have been fighting to keep them shut down, the Times says.
Greenpeace states:
The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated.
'The radiation levels in the sediment off the coast of Fukushima are low compared to land contamination, which is what we expected and consistent with other research,' said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. 'The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean combined with powerful complex currents means the largest single release of radioactivity into the marine environment has led to the widespread dispersal of contamination.'
The report comes as the 'much-hyped ice wall,' an underground refrigeration system created to build a barrier to contaminated groundwater, is said to have 'failed to stop groundwater from flowing in and mixing with highly radioactive water inside the wrecked reactor buildings.'
'The scientific community must receive all necessary support to continue their research into the impacts of this disaster," said Ulrich. 'In addition to the ongoing contamination from forests and rivers, the vast amount of radioactivity onsite at the destroyed nuclear plant remains one of the greatest nuclear threats to Fukushima coastal communities and the Pacific Ocean.'
'The hundreds of thousands of tons of highly contaminated water, the apparent failure of the ice wall to reduce groundwater contamination, and the unprecedented challenge of three molten reactor cores all add up to a nuclear crisis that is far from over,' she said."

        The Tennessee Valley Authority announced, in September, that it is selling the partially constructed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama at a huge loss, the site to be used for other purposes ("Partially Built Nuclear Plant To Be Sold at Huge Loss," The New York Times, September 12, 2016).

     Nika Knight, "At Least Six Million Americans Are Drinking Toxic 'Teflon Chemicals' With Their Water: 'The available data only reveals the tip of the iceberg of contaminated drinking water'," Common Dreams , August 10, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/10/least-six-million-americans-are-drinking-toxic-teflon-chemicals-their-water,. reported, " At least six million Americans in 33 states are being exposed to unsafe levels of industrial perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) chemicals in their drinking water, found a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.
'Virtually all Americans are exposed to these compounds. They never break down. Once they are released into the environment, they are there.'
—Xindi Hu, Harvard University "And the available water data only reveals the tip of the iceberg of contaminated drinking water," said study co-author Dr. Philippe Grandjean of the Harvard School of Public Health to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The Washington Post details the researchers' findings:
194 of 4,864 water supplies across nearly three dozen states had detectable levels of the chemicals. Sixty-six of those water supplies, serving about six million people, had at least one sample that exceeded the EPA's recommended safety limit of 70 parts per trillion for two types of chemicals — perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
PFOA and PFOS chemical compounds—including C8, popularly known as the Teflon chemical —are extremely dangerous to human health , and despite an EPA advisory released earlier this year and increasing calls for action , research shows they are near-ubiquitous in the United States.
'Virtually all Americans are exposed to these compounds,' said Xindi Hu, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at Harvard's Department of Environmental Health, to the Post. "They never break down. Once they are released into the environment, they are there.'
Moreover, the study also notes that research suggests 'That e xposure to these chemicals can make people sick, even at or below the concentration recommended as acceptable under the EPA health advisory,' according to the Gazette-Mail.
'The EPA advisory limit ... is much too high to protect us against toxic effects on the immune system,' said Grandjean to the Gazette-Mail.
PFOAs are the contentious center of a years-long legal battle against DuPont, which manufactured the chemical for decades—and dumped it into public waterways—despite knowing that it was severely harmful to human health and the environment. Thousands of personal injury cases are currently pending against the chemical giant.
The Gazette-Mail further reports:
DuPont and other companies have agreed on a voluntary phase-out of the chemical, but researchers noted in this week's study that declines in production in the U.S. and Europe have been offset by increases in developing regions such as Asia. Scientists have also been increasingly concerned about chemical contamination of consumer products, and the new study provides important details about the potential threats from waste disposal practices and varying uses of the substances.
The dire situation is a result of decades of weak or no regulations, as Hu remarked to the Harvard Gazette: 'For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as [PFOAs], were allowed to be used and released to the environment, and we now have to face the severe consequences.'
'In addition, the actual number of people exposed may be even higher than our study found," Hu continued, 'because government data for levels of these compounds in drinking water is lacking for almost a third of the U.S. population—about 100 million people.'"
Lauren McCauley, "Making Case for Clean Air, World Bank Says Pollution Cost Global Economy $5 Trillion: Impact is most severe in developing nations where '93 percent of deaths and nonfatal illnesses attributed to air pollution worldwide occurred' in 2013," Common Dreams , September 8, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/08/making-case-clean-air-world-bank-says-pollution-cost-global-economy-5-trillion, reported, " Air pollution is the fourth-leading cause of premature deaths worldwide and the problem only continues to worsen, but governments have been reluctant to make the dramatic changes necessary to curb polluting industries in favor of cleaner alternatives.
In an effort to strengthen the case for action, the World Bank along with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle released a joint study (pdf) Thursday warning about the economic effects of pollution-related fatalities.
In 2013, one in every 10 deaths was caused by diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution —such as lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and chronic bronchitis. And, according to the study, these fatalities cost the global economy roughly $225 billion in lost labor income. That number rises to more than $5 trillion when accounting for so-called 'welfare costs' —what people are willing to pay for the reduction or prevention of pollution-induced death.
Noting that the losses equal the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of India, Canada, and Mexico, the report authors say the findings are 'a sobering wake-up call.'
And this problem is only growing worse, particularly in developing nations where rapid urban growth is clogging city air while billions of households are still reliant on cooking with solid fuels—such such as wood, charcoal, coal, and dung—which produce high levels of damaging pollutants.
'In 2013 about 93 percent of deaths and nonfatal illnesses attributed to air pollution worldwide occurred in these countries, where 90 percent of the population was exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution,' the report states. 'Children under age 5 in lower-income countries are more than 60 times as likely to die from exposure to air pollution as children in high-income countries.'
What's more, these fatalities are crippling poor nations economically.
In 2013, which is the most recent data available, China lost nearly 10 percent of its GDP, India lost 7.69 percent, while Sri Lanka and Cambodia each lost roughly 8 percent, as a result of pollution-related deaths.
'Apart from the sheer magnitude of the costs, the disproportionate impacts on the poorest segments of the population make air pollution a threat to shared and inclusive prosperity,' the report states. 'The poor are more likely to live and work in polluted environments, but they are less able to avoid exposure or self-protect.'
Rich nations are not immune, however. Pollution was found to have cost the United States $45bn, Germany $18bn, and the United Kingdom $7.6bn. Iceland, with losses of just $3m, was found to be the least impacted by deaths related to dirty air.
The report does not even include the myriad other economic impacts of pollution, such as health costs as well how it impacts productivity 'by stunting plant growth and reducing the productivity of agriculture,' for example, or by 'making cities less attractive to talented workers, thereby reducing cities' competitiveness.'
Therefore, the true costs could be 'very much more,' as Urvashi Narain, lead author and senior environmental economist for IHME, put it. Adding, 'The scale of the problem is truly daunting.'
'However impressive and abstract these large numbers are, it is our hope that the cost of premature deaths for countries' economies will leave the pages of this study and inform public debate and policy decisions at the national level,' the authors conclude. 'In country after country, the cost of pollution in human lives and on the quality of life is too high. We must work together to reduce it.'"

     Geeta Anand,    "300 Million Children Breathe Highly Toxic Air, Unicef Reports," The New York Times, October 30, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/31/world/asia/unicef-children-toxic-air.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " About 300 million children in the world breathe highly toxic air, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a report on Monday that used satellite imagery to illustrate the magnitude of the problem.
The vast majority of these children, about 220 million, live in South Asia, in places where air pollution is at least six times the level that the World Health Organization considers safe, Unicef said.
The agency said the children faced serious health risks as a result.
'Children are uniquely vulnerable because their lungs are still developing,' said Nicholas Rees, the author of the report."

      Alaskan winter brings serious air pollution, and a contribution to global warming, from a plethora of wood stoves used to heat houses (Kirk Johnson, "Alaskans’ Cost of Staying Warm: A Thick Coat of Dirty Air," The New York Times, December, 25, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/25/us/alaskans-cost-of-staying-warm-a-thick-coat-of-dirty-air.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0).

     Thomas Erdbrink, "As a Noxious Smog Descends, Tehran Tries to Ignore It," The New York Times, November
15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/world/middleeast/tehran-iran-smog.html?ref=todayspaper, reported,
" Like many other metropolises in developing countries, including New Delhi and Beijing, Tehran and other Iranian cities regularly disappear under a thick blanket of smog. Every year in the autumn, the pollution gets trapped by the Alborz Mountains that hug the city like an overbearing mother. It happens so often that it is hardly news anymore.
For most Iranians, the pollution is the new normal, a problem so large and complex that it is better just to pretend that it is not there.
Of course, the consequences are undeniable. On Tuesday, a City Council member said that 412 people had died because of the pollution in recent days. Iranian officials estimate that the pollution causes the premature deaths of about 45,000 people nationwide each year.
Hospital wards are filled with coughing patients. Children are told to cover their mouths when they go outside. With the increase in air pollution over the past decade, cases of bone marrow and lung cancer related to high levels of lead in the air have exploded, health experts say."

     Geeta Anand, "Farmers’ Unchecked Crop Burning Fuels India’s Air Pollution," The New York Times, November  2, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/world/asia /farmers-unchecked-crop-burning-fuels-indias-air-pollution.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Desperate to reduce the pollution that has made New Delhi’s air quality among the worst in the world , the city has banned private cars for two-week periods and campaigned to reduce its ubiquitous fireworks during holiday celebrations.
But one thing India has not seriously tried could make the most difference: curtailing the fires set to rice fields by hundreds of thousands of farmers in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, where much of the nation’s wheat and rice is grown.
Although India’s environmental court, the National Green Tribunal, told the government last year to stop farmers from burning the straw left over from their rice harvests, NASA satellite images in recent weeks have shown virtually no abatement. Farmers are continuing to burn most of the leftover straw — an estimated 32 million tons — to make room to plant their winter wheat crop.
While fireworks associated with the Hindu holiday of Diwali were blamed for a particularly bad smog problem in recent days , smoke from the crop fires blowing across the northern plains into New Delhi accounts for about one-quarter of the most dangerous air pollution in the winter months. In the growing metropolis of nearly 20 million people, pollution soared well above hazardous levels in the past week."

     Julie Turkewitz, "Tainted Water Near Colorado Bases Hints at Wider Safety Concerns," The New York Times, July 25, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/us/tainted-water-near-colorado-bases-hints-at-wider-safety-concerns.html?ref=todayspaperreported, " Fountain — named for a creek that once gave life to this southern Colorado town — is now part of a growing list of American communities dealing with elevated levels of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, in their drinking water. In the last few months, PFC poisoning has upended municipalities around the country, including Hoosick Falls, N.Y. , home to a plastics factory, and North Bennington, Vt. , once home to a chemical plant.
Unlike in many of the other places, the contamination in Fountain and in two nearby communities, Widefield and Security, is not believed to be related to manufacturing. Rather, the authorities suspect that it was caused by Aqueous Film Forming Foam, a firefighting substance used on military bases nationwide.
Defense Department officials initially identified about 700 sites of possible contamination, but that number has surged to at least 2,000, most of them on Air Force bases, said Mark A. Correll, a deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and infrastructure at the Air Force.
All of the nine bases that the Air Force has examined so far had higher-than-recommended levels of PFCs in the local drinking water. Four bases identified by the Navy were also found to have contaminated water. In some places, the contamination affects one household. In others, it affects thousands of people.
The bases are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
'It’s quite possible it will touch every state," said Jennifer Field, a professor at Oregon State University and an expert on the chemistry of Aqueous Film Forming Foam. 'Every place has a military base, a commercial airport, an oil refinery, a fuel tank farm'."

     Suhasins Raj and Ellen Barry, "Delhi Closes Over 1,800 Schools in Response to Dangerous Smog," The New York Times, November 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/05/world/asia/delhi-closes-over-1800-schools-in-response-to-dangerous-smog.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=, reported, "For the first time ever, more than 1,800 public primary schools in India’s capital will close on Saturday to protect children from exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution, the authorities said on Friday.
The decision affects more than a million children.
A thick, acrid smog has settled over the capital over the past week, a combination of smoke from burning crops in surrounding agricultural states, fireworks on the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust and vehicle emissions.
Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, reached 600 micrograms per cubic meter in different parts of the city this week, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
Sustained exposure to that concentration of PM 2.5 is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day, said Sarath Guttikunda, the director of Urban Emissions, an independent research group.
The particles are small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, and can cause severe respiratory problems including asthma and pneumonia."

        George Monbiot, " One-Way Street," published in the Guardian 9 th November 2016, www.monbiot.com, reported on Great Britain, "The High Court judgment on air pollution is an opportunity to rethink our whole transport system.
The government’s defeat in the High Court last week was devastating – but I’m not talking about the Brexit judgment. The environmental lawyers ClientEarth sued it over air pollution for the second time, and for the second time won . After trying every trick in the book to continue poisoning the British population , the government will now have to take action.
This will mostly consist of designating more clean air zones, in which diesel engines will be restricted. After 18 years of promoting diesel, that’s quite a reversal. In several city centres, we will be entitled to inhale the attar of roses and essence of orange blossom that wafts out of petrol engines. Outside the clean air zones, you are politely requested to die quietly.

       Washington state regulators, in August 2016, adopted a new, more stringent, clean water standard based on how much fish people eat, including many tribal people who consume relatively high amounts of fish (Phoung Lee, "Washington adopts 'fish consumption' rule after years of debate," NFIC, August 2016).

      Jen Hayden, " Sinkhole at FL fertilizer company leaked 215 mil gallons of radioactive water, seeped into aquifer," Daily Kos, September 19, 2016, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/9/19/1571828/-Sinkhole-at-FL-fertilizer-company-leaked-215-mil-gallons-of-radioactive-water-seeped-into-aquifer?detail=email&link_id=7&can_id=2304a48b2891e77b9b6c14d1ce535f4f&source=email-cartoon-the-basket-is-full&email_referrer=cartoon-the-basket-is-full&email_subject=cartoon-the-basket-is-full,reported, " The Mosaic Company noticed a dropping water level at their fertilizer facility in Mulberry, Florida on August 27th and notified state authorities. They didn’t notify the public for another 3 weeks and by then a large amount of 'slightly radioactive water' had already leaked:
A sinkhole spanning 45 feet (13.7 meters) in diameter opened at a Mosaic Co phosphate fertilizer facility in Florida, leaking 215 million gallons of 'slightly radioactive water,' a company spokesman said on Friday.
Needless to say, people are questioning why it took the company three weeks to notify the public.
'It’s hard to trust them when they say 'Don’t worry,' when they’ve been keeping it secret for three weeks,' she said.
The Florian aquifer is massive and extends all the way to South Carolina , supplying much of Florida with their water:
The Floridian aquifer, as opposed to surficial aquifers , is the portion of the principal artesian aquifer that extends into Florida, parts of southern Alabama, southeastern Georgia, and southern South Carolina. In Georgia, it supplies the cities of Savannah and Brunswick . In Florida it supplies the cities of Daytona Beach , Deltona , Flagler Beach , Gainesville , Tampa , Jacksonville , Ocala , Orlando , St. Petersburg , and Tallahassee , several municipalities in South Florida, and numerous rural communities.
Residents are beginning to protest and question the reporting and clean-up process:
Jessica Broadbent lives a few miles from where the sinkhole swallowed all of that water.
'It’s going into our water supply,' she said. 'It affecting our children. Our children’s children, eventually, our community. It affects our environment.'
She adds she is concerned about the lapse in time between when the sinkhole opened, and when the public was made aware of the issue.
'Oh, I’m very upset about that,' she said. 'I think there should’ve been a hundred percent transparency. The minute there’s a leak, a sinkhole, whatever the case may be, there needs to be immediate community involvement and understanding so that there can be transparency. So it doesn’t look like a cover up because that’s what it looks like.'
The Minnesota-based Mosaic Company says it is trying to "recover" the radioactive water:
Mosaic is using ground water well P-4 to recover water that was lost as a result of the sinkhole formation. The well, which is 24-inches in diameter and 800 feet deep, is located west of the south gyp stack and is shown in the photo below.
How’s it possible to recover radioactive water that has already seeped into the aquifer? Resident Bruce Mullins asked the same question in an interview with WFLA:
'If you drop 215 million gallons of water into a moving body of water, how in the world are you going to reclaim even a good portion of that much less any of it?" Mullins said. "I would like to see the science behind that and how they can prove that they have reclaimed this water.'
WFLA was able to capture video footage of what appears to be the water leaking into the aquifer, noting the stream of water was not seen in video from the day before. They also note the EPA and Florida environmental agencies kept a lid on the leak for three weeks as well. In the jaw-dropping interview below, a Mosaic rep says the clean-up process will take years, but everything is fine. Just. Fine. Nothing to see here."

        The Navajo Nation Department of Health announced, in September 2016, that the Navajo Birth Cohort Study has found high concentrations of uranium in the urine of those studied. 21% of those studied had higher amounts of uranium in their urine than the national average, with more than a third of the men and almost a quarter of the women having uranium in their urine. Most disturbing is that Navajo young people have on average an increasing amount of the metal in their urine. As new born babies, the average is only .6%.  At six months that rises to 17%, and at one year 24%. The overall Navajo average of uranium concentration in Urine has also been increasing. In 2014, it was 7%. in 2016, it was 21%. Further study is needed to determine the geographical spread of the uranium contamination of people, resulting from year's of mining of the radioactive metal at over 500 sites on the reservation (Terry Bowman, "Study finds uranium in Navajo Babies," Navajo Times, September 22, 2016).

     Emily J. Gertz, "Contamination Threatens One of the World’s Biggest Freshwater Supplies: Scientists find high salt and arsenic concentrations in an aquifer that 750 million people rely on for drinking water and irrigation, August 29, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/08/29/contamination-threatens-one-world-s-biggest-freshwater-supplies?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-08-30, reported, " Three-quarters of a billion people across four South Asian nations rely on one vast water basin for much of their irrigation and drinking water. Called the Indo-Gangetic Basin, it stretches east to west over 618 million acres, sitting like a cap over the Indian subcontinent, and contains about 7,200 cubic miles of groundwater, roughly 20 times the annual flow of the region’s Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus rivers combined.
Satellite measurements collected since 2002 have led to worries that the region’s aquifers were being severely depleted by overuse, increasing vulnerability to failed harvests, skyrocketing food prices, and civil unrest.
But in a new study that includes on-the-ground measurements from 3,429 water wells across the basin over multiple years, an international team of scientists has found that water quality, not quantity, is a much bigger problem.
More than 60 percent of the Indo-Gangetic Basin is too contaminated with salt or arsenic to be safe for drinking or agriculture, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience."

       Taylor Hill, "Coffee Grounds Could Clean Up Lead-Contaminated Water: Researchers find that a sponge like material made of recycled espresso could make drinking water safer," TakePart, September  26, 2016,  http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/09/26/coffee-grounds-waste-water-filter-lead-mercury-poisoning?cmpid=tpnews-eml-2016-10-01-weekly, reported, "Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world, which makes spent coffee grounds one of the most frequently tossed out waste products of your morning routine.
Over the years, people have found myriad uses for spent coffee grounds, ranging from fertilizer fodder to meat marinades, but scientists have found a way to use the discarded grounds to filter lead and mercury out of water .
The discovery could give residents dealing with harmful heavy metals in their water systems cheap and sustainable access to safer drinking water.
Scientist Despina Fragouli and her colleagues at the Italian Institute of Technology found that mixing spent coffee grounds with a silicone product creates a rubbery foam substance capable of separating out lead and mercury from water, according to a study published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering."

      The New Mexico Rio Grande Pueblos of Isleta, Sandia, Santa Ana and Cochiti came together with the Audubon Society and the Club at Las Campanas, a Santa Fe golf course, to return important water flow to the Rio Grande River. The Pueblos and the club each contributed around 100 acre-feet of their water from the San Juan-Chama diversion project, while the Audubon Society worked closely with the Middle Rio Grande Conservation District on bringing the San Juan-Chama water to the Rio Grande, and sought New Mexico state funding for habitat restoration on tribal land (Sandra Postal, "Native Americans and Conservationists Collaborate to Return Vital Flow to the Rio Grande," National Geographic's Freshwater Currents, September 28, 2016).

     John R. Platt, "The West Coast’s Largest Estuary Is Being Starved of Water:A report warns the decades-long diversion of rivers that feed San Francisco Bay has put the vital ecosystem on the verge of collapse," takepart, October 13, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/10/13/san-francisco-bay-starving-water?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2016-10-13, reported, "California’s vibrant and biodiverse San Francisco Bay, the biggest estuary on the West Coast of North America, is running out of freshwater.
In some years, as much as two-thirds of the freshwater that would normally reach the bay—an estuary where freshwater and ocean water mix—is diverted for urban and agricultural use, effectively starving the ecosystem, according to a new report from the Bay Institute, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the local watershed."
The water is already becoming more saline, driving out some fish species. As the fresh water supply lessons, the whole eco system is being impacted.

       A combination of heavy demand for water from oil drillers and the shrinking of glaciers due to global warming has been drying up the centuries old Karez tunnel irrigation system of China's Xinjiang Province (Andrew Jacobs, " Xinjiang's Ancient Water Tunnels Are Running Dry," The New York Times,
September 22, 2016).

     Nida Najar, "Violence Erupts in Southern India Over Order to Share Water," The New York Times, September, 12, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/world/asia/violence-erupts-in-southern-india-over-order-to-share-water.html?ref=todayspaper, reported
" Violent protests broke out in the southern state of Karnataka on Monday after the Indian Supreme Court ordered the state to release water to the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, the latest chapter in a longstanding dispute.
The authorities in the Karnataka city of Bangalore banned public gatherings and deployed riot police officers as protesters set fire to vehicles and pelted buildings and cars with stones. The police fired on protesters who were setting fire to police vehicles in Bangalore, killing one and injuring two others, said Madhukar Narote, an assistant subinspector for the state police."
The water is on a river that runs between states. Droughts and weak monsoons, happening more often an d likely related to climate change, often cause conflicts over water in India.

     Andrew E. Kramer, "In Siberia, a ‘Blood River’ in a Dead Zone Twice the Size of Rhode Island," The New York Times, September, 8, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/09/world/europe/russia-red-river-siberia-norilsk-nickel.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " A river in the far north of Siberia turned bright red this week, residents said, leading Russians to nickname the tributary the "blood river."
A government ministry said it was investigating a possible leak of industrial waste, but had not determined what caused the discoloration. One hint at the possible cause is the path the river, the Daldykan, takes past the Norilsk Nickel mine and metallurgical plant, by many measures one of the world’s most polluting enterprises. The plant belches so much acid rain-producing sulfur dioxide — two million tons a year, more than is produced in all of France — that it is surrounded by a dead zone of tree trunks and mud about twice the size of Rhode Island."

       Abby Goodnough, "Their Soil Toxic, 1,100 Indiana Residents Scramble to Find New Homes," The New York Times, August, 30, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/31/us/lead-contamination-public-housing-east-chicago-indiana.html?ref=todayspaper, reported that in East Chicago, IN, "Ms. King and other residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex here learned recently that much of the soil outside their homes contained staggering levels of lead, one of the worst threats to children’s health.
Ms. King’s 3-year-old son, Josiah, has a worrisome amount of lead in his blood, according to test results she received last week. Like about 1,100 other poor, largely black residents of West Calumet, including 670 children, she is scrambling to find a new home after Mayor Anthony Copeland of East Chicago announced last month that the residents had to move out and that the complex would be demolished."
"The extent of the contamination came as a shock to residents of the complex, even though it is just north of a huge former U.S.S. Lead smelting plant and on top of a smaller former smelting operation, in an area that was designated a Superfund site in 2009 . Now, in a situation that many fearful residents are comparing to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., they are asking why neither the state nor the Environmental Protection Agency told them just how toxic their soil was much sooner, and a timeline is emerging that suggests a painfully slow government process of confronting the problem."

     Mike Ives, "More Than 9 in 10 People Breathe Bad Air, W.H.O. Study Says, The New York Times, September 27, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/world/air-pollution-smog-who.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, World Health Organization said Tuesday that 92 percent of people breathe what it classifies as unhealthy air, in another sign that atmospheric pollution is a significant threat to global public health.
A new report, the W.H.O.’s most comprehensive analysis so far of outdoor air quality worldwide, also said about three million deaths a year — mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other noncommunicable diseases — were linked to outdoor air pollution. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths are in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region, compared with 333,000 in Europe and the Americas, the report said."

        The chemical industry in China suffered almost one accident a day from January to August 2016, with 232 reported, mostly involving highly toxic substances, killing 199 people an injuring 400, according to Chinese government data studied by Greenpeace (Javier Hernandez, "Grim Toll in China Chemical Accidents," The New York Times, September 22, 2016).

        Richard Walker, "Refineries Will Invest $425 Million in Pollution Controls Near Tribal Lands, August 3, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/refineries-will-invest-425-million-in-pollution-controls-near-tribal-lands/, reported, " Refineries operated by two oil companies violated the Clean Air Act in two major U.S. cities and near Native lands in five states at various times since 2001.
Those companies – Tesoro and Par Hawaii Refining – will invest a total of $425 million on pollution controls and local environmental projects, according to a settlement reached on July 18 with the U.S. Justice Department and the EPA. The settlement, also known as a consent decree, is subject to public comment through August 22.
Tesoro will also pay a $10.45 million civil penalty, to be shared by the United States, the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the Northwest Clean Air Agency."

        Nika Knight, " Up to 14 Million Children Exposed to Toxic Industrial Chemicals in Schools: Harvard researchers estimate toxic PCBs may be present in up to 26,000 U.S. schools," Common Dreams , October 06, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/06/14-million-children-exposed-toxic-industrial-chemicals-schools, reported, " Millions of children in the U.S. are being exposed to deadly polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in their schools, despite the fact that such chemicals have been banned for decades.
That's according to a new report from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that analyzed Harvard research and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, and which also uncovered a dismal lack of regulation around the illegal chemicals in school buildings.
PCBs are industrial chemicals so toxic that they were banned by Congress 40 years ago.
'PCBs are some of the most toxic and persistent chemicals ever produced,' said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which analyzed the data on PCBs in Sen. Markey's report. 'It's shocking to find that while they were banned decades ago, millions of kids and other Americans continue to be exposed today.'
Indeed , EWG in a 2005 study found 147 different PCB contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of 10 American newborns.
The environmental group explains the dangers associated with PCB exposure and how such exposure can occur:
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been linked to cancer, harm to the immune system, neurological damage, learning deficits, lowered birth weight and decreased thyroid function. Manufactured from the 1920s to the 1970s by Monsanto, PCBs were used as insulators for electrical equipment, oils for hydraulic systems, plasticizers in paints and caulks, components of fluorescent light fixtures and in consumer products such as carbonless copy paper. Not long after Monsanto introduced PCBs, the company discovered they were hazardous, but hid that information from the public and regulators.
Schoolchildren are most often exposed by old, PCB-laden caulk and crumbling fluorescent light fixtures. They may also come in contact with PCBs that leached into soil, or that were incorporated into paints and floor finishes. Any school building constructed between the 1950s and the late 1970s is likely to test positive for PCBs, but the EPA does not currently require such tests.
It's worth noting that Monsanto has been sued multiple times in different states for knowingly contaminating the environment with PCBs, but those suits have thus far been unsuccessful .
' [B]ecause [PCBs] were commonly used in building materials for decades, they continue to contaminate classrooms in between 13,000 and 26,000 schools nationwide,' the Washington Post reports.
Old building materials are 'leaking PCBs into the schools where the kids and the teachers inhale them. They get contaminated dust on their skin,' Harvard professor Robert Herrick, whose research has focused on the problem for years, told WNPR. 'Our research has shown that in the teachers, if you look at the PCB levels in their blood, they have higher levels than you find in the general population.'
Moreover, Sen. Markey's office released a report (pdf) Wednesday on the phenomenon of PCBs in schools based on EPA data and Herrick's research, and found that the regulations for such chemicals in schools are extremely weak or nonexistent.
'My report reveals that first, schools do not test for PCB hazards, and are not required to do so," Markey told the Connecticut public radio station. 'And when PCB contamination is found, no one has to report it to the EPA... To put it plainly, we have no real idea how many students are being exposed to PCBs in their classroom each and every day.'
'This is absolutely outrageous,' said Jennifer deNicola, president of the public health advocacy group America Unites for Kids. 'No parent or educator should stand for it. Our government, which requires that children attend school, should also ensure they're in schools and classrooms free from toxic chemicals like PCBs'."

       The Chinese government has promised to replace running tracks at schools made of industrial waste that is reported to have sickened children (Owen Guo, "China Vows to Replace Running Tracks That Have Sickened Schoolchildren," The New York Times, June 24, 2016).

       Medical doctors and scientists in the United States are calling for tougher regulations on chemicals that come into households causing health problems. These include fire retardants in upholstery, chemicals used to make plastic flexible, and make vegetables and fruits more abundant. The chemical industry supported a weak bill to begin slowly testing many household impacting chemicals, but many scientists and Mds find the legislation far to weak (Roni Caryn Rabin, "Doctors and Scientists Call for Tougher Regulation of Toxic Household Chemicals," The New York Times, July 2, 2016).

      Nika Knight, " Indonesia's Illegal Deforestation Fires Killed Over 100,000: Study: Illegal fires used to deforest land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations are raging again today," Common Dreams , September 19, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/09/19/indonesias-illegal-deforestation-fires-killed-over-100000-study, reported, " As illegal forest-clearing fires once again burn acres of tropical peatland in Indonesia, new research on last year's deadly blazes estimates that 100,000 people died prematurely from the toxic haze that resulted from the fires.
The fires are set each year to cheaply and quickly clear tropical peatland for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. While technically illegal, Indonesia has historically failed to regulate the devastating practice.
An Indonesian scientist described the fires last year as a 'crime against humanity,' and NASA characterized the out-of-control blazes as the worst climate disaster on Earth at the time, as Common Dreams reported.
Yet the Indonesian government last year only reported 19 deaths from the blaze that forced school closures and grounded flights in the neighboring countries of Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Now, research from scientists at Harvard and Columbia estimates that the human death toll was over 5,000 times the government estimate.
'If nothing changes, this killer haze will carry on taking a terrible toll, year after year."—Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia
The study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, 'combined satellite data with models of health impacts from smoke exposure and readings from pollution monitoring stations,' the Guardian notes.
The results led the researchers to estimate that 100,300 died from the toxic haze that blanketed the region for weeks in 2015. They estimated 91,600 deaths in Indonesia, 6,500 in Malaysia, and 2,200 in Singapore.
And those estimates are conservative, Greenpeace International observed in a statement:
The cost to human health calculated in the new report is a conservative estimate, because the study did not include the impacts of the cocktail of other toxins which formed part of the haze, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and a host of others. It considered only premature adult deaths brought on by breathing high levels of smoke particles known as PM2.5. Measuring 2.5 micrometres or less, they are small enough to be inhaled and some are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. They are known to cause deaths due to lung, heart and circulatory diseases including asthma, heart attack and stroke. Harm to children and pregnancies was not included, although the report notes that 'impacts on children are likely significant.'
Indeed, Greenpeace International also quoted Dr. Nursyam Ibrahim, deputy of the West Kalimantan chapter of the Indonesian Medical Association, saying that the 'greatest impact from breathing particles from peat fire smoke falls on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, babies, and children.'
'The Indonesian Medical Association in West Kalimantan calls on all parties to work together to prevent fires, especially in peatlands,' Ibrahim added. 'What is at stake is a decline in the quality of Indonesia's future human resources. We are the doctors who care for the vulnerable groups exposed to toxic smoke in every medical center, and we know how awful it is to see the disease symptoms experienced by babies and children in our care.'
The toll wasn't limited to humans, of course. Orangutans were also displaced and sickened by the thousands as their habitats went up in smoke.
And the disaster continues, as fire season is once again well under way in Indonesia. Last month, Singapore was again blanketed in the toxic haze produced by Indonesia's plantation industry's "slash and burn" practices.
Several weeks ago, environmental groups also reported that the illegal practice of burning peatland was spreading to the relatively untouched province of Papua.
'More than a hundred thousand are estimated to have died prematurely last year. Now fires are back again. If nothing changes, this killer haze will carry on taking a terrible toll, year after year,' said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi. 'Industry and government must take real action to stop forest clearing and peatland drainage for plantations.'
'Now that we know the scale of the death toll, failure to act immediately to stem the loss of life would be a crime,' Indradi concluded."

        Ivory Coast has suffered perhaps the fastest deforestation in Africa, having lost 80 percent of the woodland it had in 1960, by 2010. Officials say the largest cause is the thousands of people who set up illegal cocoa farms in the midst of protected forest. Recently, the government has taken steps to end the practice, forcing perhaps 51,000 cocoa growers out of the forest. But no steps have been taken at resettlement, and the flood of refugees has been creating a humanitarian crisis (Sean Lyngaas, "From Dwindling Forests, a Flood of Refugees," The New York Times, December 2, 2016).

     Michelle Innis, "Great Barrier Reef Hit by Worst Coral Die-Off on Record, Scientists Say," The New York Times, November 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/australia/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Scientists surveying the Great Barrier Reef said Tuesday that it had suffered the worst coral die-off ever recorded after being bathed this year in warm waters that bleached and then weakened the coral.
About two-thirds of the shallow-water coral on the reef’s previously pristine, 430-mile northern stretch is dead, the scientists said. Only a cyclone that reduced water temperatures by up to three degrees Celsius in the south saved the lower reaches of the 1,400-mile reef from damage, they added.
On some atolls in the north, all the coral has died, said Prof. Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, in the eastern state of Queensland. Professor Hughes and a team of scientists drew their findings from about 900 dive surveys along the length of the reef in October and November.
'The good news is that in the south, only about 1 percent of the reef’s coral has died, and the mortality rate in the middle is about 6 percent,' Professor Hughes said. Vibrant color has returned to that coral, and the reef there is in good condition, he added."

        Jim Robbins, "Tiny Invader, Deadly to Fish, Shuts Down a River in Montana," The New York Times, August 23, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/us/tiny-parasite-invader-deadly-to-fish-shuts-down-yellowstone-river-in-montana.html?ref=todayspaper, reported that Montana wildlife officials shut down almost 200 miles of the Yellowstone and its tributaries to recreation, in late August 2016, to prevent the parasite proliferative kidney disease, or P.K.D., which kills mountain whitefish, and possibly trout from spreading to other rivers, or south into Yellowstone National Park. Climate change is the primary cause, bringing warmer and lower water in which P.K.D. can spread among the fish. Thousands of dead whitefish have lined the banks of the river.

     "Is It Time to Reframe the Conversation," Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), August 25, 2016, whales.org, commented, "A recent article published in Oceanography by Dr. Phillip Clapham is entitled Managing Leviathan: Conservation challenges for the great whales in a post-whaling world. In the article, Dr. Clapham reviews the history of modern whaling (i.e. industrial, commercial whaling) and its removal of nearly 3,000,000 whales in the 20th Century alone, reducing some populations by 99% of their pre-whaling abundance. To give some perspective, a reduction of this size would be comparable to reducing the current US population to a place where only the residents of the city of Los Angeles would remain.
Clapham details what he refers to as "The Era of Excess ", reporting on the excess of legal catches as well as exposes the impacts of the unreported illegal takes that occurred, primarily by the former USSR, further devastating whale populations. In one example, he notes that Soviet whalers reported killing 2,710 humpback whales, but actually slaughtered more than 48,000, of which 25,000 were killed in just two whaling seasons. He references data in which he and his colleagues identified 11 populations of baleen whales, which whaling had driven to extinction. That is not to say that the species do not remain, but, just as with humans, whale species have their own irreplaceable historical cultural societies, some of which are now lost forever.
While Clapham notes that some whale populations are recovering, he also provides an overview of the current threats limiting their recovery, highlighting entanglement/bycatch, ship collision, noise and pollution. However, he spends time considering the big unknown of whale recovery - climate change. He notes that some whale species may be able to cope with expanding new habitats while others may be impacted by prey depletion, glacial retreat and ocean acidification.
But it is his final segment that may be his most important where he credits the recent research of Joe Roman, James McCarthy, Trish Lavery, Lavenia Ratnarajah, Andrew Pershing and their colleagues, all of whom point to the significant ecological role played by whales in the marine ecosystem and, as a result, the health of our shared planet. These data demonstrate that whales make iron, nitrogen and other nutrients available to surface dwelling phytoplankton, the primary producers who photosynthesize much of the air that we breathe and serve as a food source for tiny zooplankton who, themselves, are preyed upon by fish and krill and other marine life which become sustenance for still others, including the commercially valuable fish on which much of the world relies. These data also reveal that whales sequester carbon and can help combat the increasing impacts of climate change .
According to the United Nations, climate change is now impacting each every single country on each continent, impacting the lives of individuals and communities as well as disrupting national economies. From farmers whose crops suffer from droughts to global fisheries which " assure the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population " to the availability of drinking water , climate change impacts us all.
Clapham concludes what WDC has always believed that 'the continued recovery of the world’s great whales is a conservation goal that is not just noble and appropriate, but also very much in our self-interest.' That is to say, that WDC’s vision of a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free is not a noble gesture, but a necessary goal for a healthy planet on which humans and wildlife can survive and thrive.
The bottom line is that we need whales. We should not be setting upper limits at which we consider them no longer in need of protection - protecting their future protects ours. The conversation must advance from one in which we discuss their 'management' to one in which we not only promote and enable their recovery, but ensure that they can thrive. There are no thresholds of removal that we should consider sustainable - whether it be the loss from whaling, ship strike, bycatch or live captures – removing them from their roles as ecosystem engineers is ultimately our loss and it needs to stop.
Obviously recovering the great whale populations alone is not enough to create and maintain a healthy global ecosystem and economy, but the fact they have a significant ecological role should not be dismissed; and neither should the role of WDC and other organizations/ individuals whose work leads to meaningful protection. We are not so naive as to think that all of the world will grow to love and appreciate whales and dolphins the way we do. Indeed, loving whales and needing them are two different things, but what we could, and should, all agree is that we increasingly need a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.
~ Chris Butler-Stroud, CEO, Whale and Dolphin Conservation"

     Karen Weintraub, "Giant Coral Reef in Protected Area Shows New Signs of Life," The New York Times, August. 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/science/coral-reef-climate-change.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, "In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead.
On the floor of a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, the giant reef site had been devastated by unusually warm water. Its remains looked like a pile of drab dinner plates tossed into the sea. Research dives in 2009 and 2012 had shown little improvement in the coral colonies.
Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find Coral Castles, genus Acropora, once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record?
This month, the Massachusetts-based research team finished a new exploration of the reefs in the secluded Phoenix Islands , a tiny Pacific archipelago, and were thrilled by what they saw. When they splashed out of an inflatable dinghy to examine Coral Castles closely, they were greeted with a vista of bright greens and purples — unmistakable signs of life."

        Julie Girshfield Davis, "Obama to Create World’s Largest Marine Reserve Off Hawaii," The New York Times, August. 26, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/topic/person/barack-obama?inline=nyt-per, reported, " President Obama is set to vastly expand a marine sanctuary northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands, White House officials said Thursday, creating the world’s largest protected marine area as he seeks to cement his environmental legacy in his last months in office.
Mr. Obama will travel next week to Midway Atoll, a remote spit of land within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, to recognize the designation and highlight the importance of protecting pristine lands and waters as the perils of climate change intensify."

        The vaquita, the Earth's smallest porpoise, is close to extinction, being caught in the nets of those fishing illegally in Mexican waters, despite the Mexican navy's efforts to stop such fishing (Elisabeth Malkin, "Earth's Smallest Porpoise Slips Closer to Extinction," The New York Times, May 16, 2016).

      Climate change brought a plague of millions tiny white flies from the South of Iran to Tehran, in October 2016 (Thomas Erdbrink, "As Bugs Come for Its Mulberry Trees, a City Wraps Itself in Flypaper," The New York Times, October 4, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/world/middleeast/iran-tehran-mulberry-flies.html?ref=todayspaper).

       The lucrative "Himalayan Viagra Fungus," picked and sold as anaphrodesiac in Nepal, is seriously declining and becoming endangered as a result of climate change (Kai Schultz, "Climate Change Seen as Threat to Lucrative 'Himalayan Viagra Fungus'," The New York Times, June 27, 2016).

         To reduce deaths in automobile collisions with an over abundance of deer in the Eastern U.S., wildlife scientists suggest reintroducing or expanding the cougar population in 19 states (James Gorman, "Study Suggests Letting Cougars Return to Native Range to Counter Killer Deer," The New York Times, July 20, 2016).

      The African elephant population shrank by 30 percent from 2007-2014, largely because of poaching. Both of Africa's elephant species were impacted (Niraj Chokshi and Jeffrey Gettleman, "Dire Figures on Elephants Across Africa," The New York Times, September 29, 2016).

     Richard Conniff, "Climate Change Killed This Critter, but Can Others Be Saved From Extinction? Scientist grapple with whether to relocate wildlife threatened by warming temperatures, sea level rise, and drought," TakePart, November 22, 2016, http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/11/22/climate-change-killed-critter-can-others-be-saved?cmpid=tpnews-eml-2016-11-26-weekly, reported, "Australian scientists were 'devastated' in 2014 when they visited the tiny island home of the Bramble Cay melomys, the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal, and found no one home. They described it as probably 'the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change'"
"That painful example has many conservationists thinking hard about what they call "assisted colonization." That is, they are wondering whether and how to move species to places they have never lived before—because that may be their only chance to survive the climate change regimen of warmer temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather events like drought, flooding, and wildfire."

     The African Wildlife Foundation reported November 15, 2016, https://secure.awf.org/COP22-petition?utm_campaign=fy17advocacy3&ms=B17V04E02M&utm_source=1611advocacy1adv&utm_medium=email&utm_content=15894509&spMailingID=15894509&spUserID=MTkyNjU1OTkzNTMwS0&spJobID=903326886&spReportId=OTAzMzI2ODg2S0, reported,  " It turns out poachers aren't the only enemy threatening Africa's wildlife. A changing climate threatens wildlife's very existence: In warming temperatures mountain gorillas would lose 75% of their shrinking habitat. Elephants spend on cast amounts of water that would dry up in prolonged droughts. Cheetah populations are declining as increasing temperatures affect their ability to reproduce. Serengeti migration patterns will change brining millions of animals into conflict with people."

      Lauren McCauley, "Fall of the Wild: Study Documents 'Catastrophic Decline' in World's Untouched Places: With 10 percent lost in just 20 years, researchers say wilderness is being lost at a 'staggering' pace," Common Dreams , September 08, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/pages/todayspaper/index.html, reported, "Wilderness, though remote by nature, is not immune to the ravages of humanity. In fact, according to a new study in the journal Current Biology, the world's wild places are undergoing "catastrophic decline" and could be facing elimination within decades if monumental policy shifts are not implemented.
'If we don't act soon, there will only be tiny remnants of wilderness around the planet, and this is a disaster for conservation, for climate change, and for some of the most vulnerable human communities on the planet,' warned lead author Dr. James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. 'We have a duty to act for our children and their children.'
Watson and his team mapped wilderness areas around the globe, which were defined as 'biologically and ecologically intact landscapes free of any significant human disturbance,' and then compared that to one produced by the same methods in the early 1990s.
The amount of wilderness loss in those two decades was 'staggering,' according to co-author Dr. Oscar Venter of the University of Northern British Colombia.
The study reported total losses of 3.3 million km² since the 1990s, particularly in South America, which experienced 29.6 percent loss, and Africa, with 14 percent. The world currently has a total of 30.1 million km² of remaining wilderness, which is primarily located in North America, North Asia, North Africa, and Australia.
Overall, the researchers found that rapid development had wiped out roughly 10 percent of wilderness over the past 20 years—a pace that, researchers say, spells disaster for these pristine ecosystems if no changes in policy are made.
'Despite being strongholds for endangered biodiversity, for buffering and regulating local climates, and for supporting many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalized communities,' Watson noted that wilderness areas 'are completely ignored in environmental policy.'
'We probably have one to two decades to turn this around,' he warned.
Venter agreed, stating, 'You cannot restore wilderness, once it is gone, and the ecological process that underpin these ecosystems are gone, and it never comes back to the state it was.'
'Without proactive global interventions we could lose the last jewels in nature's crown," he continued. 'The only option is to proactively protect what is left.'
Indeed, coming just weeks after scientists announced that the planet has officially entered a new epoch, the Anthropocene, due to the impacts of human activity, the rapid decline of wild spaces also comes as 'no surprise' to many.
'Given the fact that we have already converted a third of the world's land surface to agriculture of some kind, and that we are changing the atmosphere so rapidly that unless we start taking truly effective action now, it should not be surprising that the wild and natural areas of the world are being altered and even destroyed so rapidly,' said Peter Raven, chairman of the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration and president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, according to National Geographic."

     Victoria Burnett, "Avocados Imperil Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Home in Mexico," The New York Times, November  17, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/world/americas/ambition-of-avocado-imperils-monarch-butterflies-winter-home.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " The green volcanic hills that tower above Apútzio de Juárez have begun to fill with swarms of monarch butterflies, which return each year for the winter stretch of their celebrated — and imperiled — migration.
But downhill from the monarchs’ mountain roost, in the oak and pine forests that border this small farming town, there lurks a new threat to their winter habitat: a lust to grow the lucrative avocados that are being consumed at record rates in the United States.
Spurred by soaring demand for the creamy fruit, farmers here in the western state of Michoacán are clearing land to make room for avocado orchards, cutting oak and pine trees that form a vital buffer around the mountain forests where the monarchs nest."

     Sean Lyngaa, "Ousting Squatter Farmers to Save Forest, Ivory Coast Sets Off New Crisis," The New York Times, December 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/world/africa/ivory-coast-forests-cocoa-farmers.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " Ivory Coast has a serious deforestation problem: Some scientists say it is losing its woodlands faster than any other nation in Africa. Four-fifths of the forest cover that the country had when it became independent in 1960 was gone by 2010, according to the European Union.
Government officials put much of the blame on the many tens of thousands of people who took advantage of years of political unrest to seize land in protected forests and use it illegally to grow cocoa, the country’s most important export crop. Now, the officials say, the squatters have to go.
Teams of rangers like Mr. Ouattara fanned out across Mont Péko over the summer to evict the cocoa farmers. Deprived of their livelihood and driven from the forest, the farmers have poured into nearby villages, creating a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations estimates is affecting more than 51,000 people."

     WildEarth Guardians, "Settlement Reins in Rogue GovernmentWildlife Killing Program," October 19, 2016, http://www.environews.tv/101716-century-landmark-settlement-puts-brakes-federal-governments-rouge-wildlife-killing-program/, "We have good news to share! Guardians recently reached a landmark settlement with the rogue federal wildlife-killing program "Wildlife Services" that could stop the bloodshed and advance our vision for compassionate coexistence with native wildlife.
The settlement halts all killing activities in Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas in Nevada—more than six million acres of our public lands—and requires the agency to abandon its woefully outdated 1994 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which it relied on to justify killing wildlife nationwide.
The program will now be forced into the spotlight as it re-evaluates its killing practices, and that means you and I will have an opportunity to ensure that decisions are grounded in science and modern attitudes about the ethical treatment of animals, especially carnivores.
Our hope is that the program will finally abandon its outdated kill first, think later attitude and adopt a coexistence mandate.
Our legal victory also hopefully means the program’s days of killing over 4,000 native animals every day with our tax dollars are numbered.
That means less bloodshed and more compassionate coexistence with wolves, cougars, bobcats, and black bears as well as coyotes, beavers, and prairie dogs."

     Danny Hakim, "Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops," The New York Times, October 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/business/gmo-promise-falls-short.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, " Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.
An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that "there was little evidence" that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.
At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides."

      The number of honey bee colonies world wide declined by 12% during the winter of 2015-16, with the largest losses in Spain and and the United Kingdom ("By the Numbers," Science, August 12, 2016).

       At least 2 million bees were killed by spraying of insecticide intended to kill mosquitos that carry zika virus, at an apiary in Summerville, SC, when a city employee failed to notify the apiary of the coming spraying (Alan Blinder, "Aimed at Zika Mosquitoes, Spray Kills Millions of Bees," The New York Times, September 2, 2016).

       "Breaking: Historic Action Protects Sacred Land in Utah and Nevada!" Pew Charitable Trust, December 28, 2016, http://view.pewtrusts.org/?qs=b057a2fe7cb8bcf6a5bbac9a368c45c6493ca8e7ca0ec05f651880fee1647f3669d38cbbdfffec95dae81e3f5622c6b1e680e95367d20d7bb0bb0f361aecee480f31640054710934a2edd14bf3935c7c, reported, " President Barack Obama made history today by designating Bears Ears in southern Utah and Gold Butte in southern Nevada as national monuments, safeguarding significant cultural areas and honoring tribal nations with ancestral connections to the regions. Our two newest national monuments will preserve traditional land use, outstanding natural resources, and world-class opportunities for outdoor recreation for future generations.
This incredible victory for our public lands was made possible by thousands of people across the country who joined tribes and local elected officials, business owners, community groups, scientists, cultural resource specialists, and recreation enthusiasts to call on our national leaders to safeguard two beloved landscapes.
   Bears Ears contains more than 100,000 archeological and cultural sites, is rich in biodiversity, and remains of critical importance to the Colorado River Basin, upon which 40 million Americans rely for clean water. Its red rock canyons, alpine peaks, and forested plateaus are a magnet for all types of outdoor enthusiasts from across the country and around the world. Gold Butte's marvels include thousands of petroglyphs, historic mining and pioneer-era artifacts, rare and threatened wildlife, dramatic geologic features such as red sculpted sandstone and rock spires, and fossil sites that are now protected forever.
   But there are some in Congress who are attempting to dismantle the Antiquities Act, the law used by President Obama--and 15 past presidents of both political parties--to safeguard these and other national treasures."

       Edward Wong and Jeffrey Gettleman, "China Bans Its Ivory Trade, Moving Against Elephant Poaching," The New York Times, December 30, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/asia/china-ivory-ban-elephants.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " China announced on Friday that it was banning all commerce in ivory by the end of 2017, a move that would shut down the world’s largest ivory market and could deal a critical blow to the practice of elephant poaching in Africa."
Jeffrey Gettleman, "Closing China’s Ivory Market: Will It Save Elephants?" The New York Times, December 31, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/world/africa/africa-ivory-china.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, pointed out that it will take more than China simply making the ivory trade illegal to save the elephants. It will also have to go strongly after the illegal ivory market in China, which will expand with the closing of the legal market. Also, neighboring countries will need a strong crackdown on the ivory trade. If only China acts effectively, the ivory market will simply move abroad.

     An analysis by The New York Times, in October 2016, found that in the United States and Canada the use of genetically modified crops has neither increased crop yields nor reduced pesticide use (Danny Hakim, "Doubts About a Promised Bounty," The New York Times, October 30, 2016).

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U.S. Developments

     Many of the reports in this issue of U.S. government legislation, agency action, and court decisions are informed by electronic flyers from Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker, LLP, 2120 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037, http://www.hobbsstraus.com. Reports from Indian Country Today Media Network, from the web, are listed as from ICTMN.

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U.S. Government Developments

Presidential Actions

        "Consultations on Improving Tribal Input into Federal Agency Decisions on Infrastructure Projects," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-061, October 10, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-061, reported, "On September 23, 2016, the Obama Administration distributed a "Dear Tribal Leader" letter inviting Tribal Leaders to a series of consultation sessions on "how the Federal Government can better account for, and integrate tribal views on future infrastructure decisions throughout the country." The consultations will begin with a listening session on October 11th at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Annual Convention in Phoenix. Then there will be five in-person consultations in Seattle, Albuquerque, Billings, Minneapolis, and Rapid City, followed by a phone consultation on November 21, 2016. The Administration is also accepting written comments until Friday, November 30, 2016. Comments may be submitted at consultation@bia.gov.
The " Dear Tribal Leader" letter sets out two questions on which the federal agencies are seeking input from Tribal Leaders:
(1) How can Federal agencies better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions, to protect tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights within the existing statutory framework?
(2) Should the Federal agencies propose new legislation altering the statutory framework to promote these goals?
The Administration’s intent to conduct these consultations was announced on September 9th in a joint statement of the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and Department of the Interior regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lawsuit challenging the Dakota Access pipeline. That statement said that the Corps "will not authorize" construction of the pipeline on Corps land until it can determine whether it needs to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. The announced consultation sessions are intended to address future infrastructure projects, not the Dakota Access pipeline, although tribal representatives will undoubtedly refer to their experiences with that pipeline project.
In preparation for the consultation sessions, on September 30th, NCAI hosted a webinar for tribal representatives and advocates in which NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata reported that an NCAI workgroup would put together a framework paper to help prepare for the consultations and to be used in preparing written comments. During the webinar, a number of topics were discussed, including:
(1) existing federal decision-making processes and ways in which tribal involvement may be limited, with resulting inadequate consideration of tribal concerns;
(2) the nationwide permit program of the Army Corps of Engineers;
(3) the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), historic properties of religious and cultural importance to tribes, the relevance of tribal oral traditions, and addressing Tribal concerns in memoranda of agreement and programmatic agreements;
(4) the trust responsibility and its relevance for consultation with tribes;
(5) possible administrative solutions, including regulatory fixes, updating relevant executive orders regarding consultation, government-to-government negotiations, and how to make consultation a more collaborative process;
(6) analyzing the relevance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the "free, prior, and informed consent" provisions;
(7) possible congressional solutions, including analyzing reform to NHPA, NEPA, the Clean Water Act, and other laws; and
(8) a tribal communications strategy to advance Indian Country advocacy and counter opposition.
We believe that the Administration’s commitment to conduct these consultation sessions is a positive development. Whether it leads to real improvements in federal agency decision-making processes, of course, remains to be seen. That will depend, in part, on what tribes have to contribute during the consultation sessions."
Vincent Schilling, "White House Outlines Massive Outreach to Indian Country at Tribal Nations Conference," ICTMN,  September 26, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/white-house-outlines-massive-outreach-to-indian-country-at-tribal-nations-conference/, reported, "As the 8th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference (WHTNC) kicked off Monday in Washington DC, the White House released a massive plan of continued action, entitled 'An All-of-Government Approach to Serving Indian Country.'"
The White House Press Release," Fact Sheet: The 8th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, September 26, 2016,https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/26/fact-sheet-8th-annual-white-house-tribal-nations-conference, stated the following about "highlights of the progress made in 2016 and announce new steps forward:"
Public Safety and Justice Subgroup of WHCNAA. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) will co-chair the Public Safety & Justice Subgroup (Subgroup) of the WHCNAA. The Departments formed the Subgroup at the September 6, 2016 WHCNAA principals meeting in response to the needs expressed by tribal leaders for the WHCNAA to concentrate on the unique legal and public safety concerns facing Indian Country such as jurisdictional matters, violence in Indian Country, infrastructure, training and capacity for tribal police and judicial systems, and more. The Subgroup will coordinate with other agencies to address public safety issues from an inter-agency perspective, and will ensure input from tribal representatives.
Interagency Trauma Initiative of the WHCNAA Health Subgroup. The federal government plays an important partnership role with tribal nations in improving the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native communities. An area where this partnership is vital is in addressing traumatic events, some which may have been experienced historically and intergenerationally. The effects of trauma can be long-term and have effects on individuals, families, and communities. A few of the symptoms and effects are psychological distress, poor overall physical and mental health, and unmet medical and psychological needs.
These health impacts can be significant for American Indians and Alaska Natives who may also face disparities related to socioeconomic status, education, employment, access to services, the physical environment, food security, and physical activity, among others. To strengthen efforts focused on improving the well-being of tribal communities, the Health Subgroup is working to improve awareness on the impacts of trauma among executives, senior leaders, and employees; initiating collaborations across programs; and building the capacity for supporting trauma-informed services and practices.
Reinforcing the National Historic Preservation Act and Self Determination. The National Historic Preservation Act includes a provision for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to enter into agreements with Indian tribes to substitute a tribe’s historic preservation regulations for the ACHP’s regulations, commonly called the Section 106 process. Under such an arrangement, an Indian tribe has the ability to determine how federal agencies meet the requirements of Section 106 for projects on its lands. In March 2016, the ACHP entered into a substitution agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida whereby the tribe will carry out all historic preservation work on its tribal lands, a full expression of its sovereignty and self-determination. The agreement with the Seminole Tribe is only the second agreement the ACHP has entered into. The first was with the Narragansett Tribe in 2000. To both encourage other Indian tribes to consider such arrangements and to help them navigate the decision making process, the ACHP, in consultation with Indian tribes, will issue formal guidance in 2017.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico Commit to Improve Coordination on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls. On June 29, 2016 President Obama traveled to Ottawa, Canada for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where he met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. The three presidents made a tri-lateral commitment to address the scourge of violence against indigenous women and girls that exists across North America. The commitment encompasses knowledge-sharing on best practices to prevent and respond the needs of indigenous women and girls, including enhancing cooperation between the three nations, improving judicial and social service provision, and strengthening the capacity of government health services to provide culturally sensitive services to all indigenous recipients.
Gathering Gen-I Native Youth. On September 27, the Administration will host the second annual Tribal Youth Gathering. Tomorrow’s gathering builds upon a series of six events hosted by the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which engaged over 500 youth in providing an understanding of the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Native Youth Challenge and providing participating youth the opportunity to share their perspectives on topics including health and wellness, community, education, culture, and leadership with the federal government. These events also included activities to promote youth leadership, skill building, and education all in an effort to provide participating youth with the tools to reach their full potential.
Measuring the Success of our Native Youth Programming. As a part of the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, the WHCNAA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are working with federal agencies to establish metrics and collect data about challenges and disparities faced by Native youth. These metrics will be used to help track the effectiveness of federal efforts to close opportunity gaps, and will help identify where we are making progress, where we are falling short, and progress that can be made when the federal agencies take a coordinated approach in addressing issues that affect Native youth.
Enhancing Support for Consistent Climate Change Education for Native Youth. In 2015 and 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the National Park Service (NPS), and other partners hosted the first two Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress (Congress) to promote youth engagement and positive community action for climate resilience for 89 native youth. The Congress is supported partly through the BIA’s Tribal Climate Resilience Program to support Tribal youth working on climate change research. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its Tribal Eco-Ambassador Program, which partners with federal scientists and tribal college and university students to address environmental problems, many of which are related to the impact of climate change.
Supporting Education and Community Development through Tribal Colleges and Universities. In 2016, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture invested $13.9 million in 34 Tribal Land Grant Institutions. The new awards support institutional research, education, and extension outreach capacity through projects that address student educational needs, provide positive tribal youth development experiences, and help to solve other locally identified tribal community, reservation, and regional development issues.
Engaging Native Youth. In 2015, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) adopted the Native Youth Strategic Plan. In 2016, the agency sought input from tribal leaders and historic preservation staff on their priorities and how best to reach out to Native youth. Based on stakeholder input, the ACHP has produced an information packet about historic preservation geared for both Native youth and adults. The information is intended to introduce Native youth to historic preservation, both in general and as a potential career path. A report will also be issued and will include recommendations based on input from Native youth, tribal leaders, and tribal preservation professionals. It will be available at >www.achp.gov/nap< in the summer of 2017.
Increasing Support for Locally-Tailored Education Interventions . The Department of Education recently announced that it will make $17.4 million in new awards for the Native Youth Community Projects (NYCP) grants in FY 2016, which is triple the $5.3 million that was provided in FY 2015. NYCP supports preschool through college-level projects that help American Indian and Alaska Native youth prepare for college and careers. President Obama’s FY 2017 budget request expands NYCP funding to $53 million. Technical assistance has been provided and will support these and the State-Tribal Education Programs STEP programs from pre-application through the implementation of their grants.
Investing in the Future of Youth in Indian Country. In FY 2016, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, will invest a record $3.5 million in tribally sponsored AmeriCorps programming and $1.25 million in education scholarships. The majority of the scholarship recipients are from Indian Country – who in exchange for their service will receive the scholarship to help pay for college or to repay student loans. AmeriCorps members will tutor and mentor youth, teach nutrition and physical activity, preserve language and cultural heritage, protect the environment, connect veterans and their families to job opportunities, prepare for disasters, and tackle substance abuse issues.
Training Community Change makers. In September 2016, 120 Native Youth Ambassadors, ages 14-17, will participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Native Youth Summit in Washington, DC, with the goal of developing the next generation of Native community leaders. Youth will explore what community means and the impact homes have on personal health, education, energy conservation, and finances. The youth will design a Local Empowerment Project, such as community beautification, community-based gardens, clean-up programs, mapping sacred spaces, distributing information about energy efficiency in the home, or creating a community youth health club to implement upon their return home.
Promoting Economic and Social Development through Career Technical Education Pathways. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Sherman Indian High School accepted a generous donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to continue a Career Technical Education Pathways Program that supports students attending the school. The funds support five distinct career technical education clusters. Students learn skills to work in agriculture, construction, health care, culinary arts, hospitality, tourism, and other careers. The program allows students at the boarding school to gain skills in industries promoting economic and social development for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
" Culture & Meth Don’t Mix" Initiative. DOI’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in collaboration with BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS), BIE, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has created a program called "Culture and Meth Don't Mix" to provide a culturally appropriate approach for meth prevention among Native American youth through community and inter-agency involvement. The program includes a speaker series that will take place in BIE schools. The speakers will consist of speakers from OJS, a health professional recommended by SAMHSA, and one person from the community. There will be a different theme each month educating youth about the dangers of meth, focusing on the fact that Native culture does not have a place for meth use.
Employment Opportunities for Tribal Youth through Conservation Corps. In 2016, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council began funding Tribal Youth Conservation Corps focused on coastal cleanup, restoration and community construction projects. Part of the Obama Administration's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, the Tribal Youth Conservation Corps invests in the next generation of tribal leaders by providing job training skills to enhance these young people’s ability to engage in the long-term Gulf restoration effort to help families, bolster local economies, and lead to a more resilient coast. $500,000 was specifically set aside to engage tribal youth in the region in these opportunities.
United States to Assume Concurrent Criminal Jurisdiction. In January 2016, DOJ granted a request by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe for the United States to assume concurrent criminal jurisdiction on the tribe’s reservation in central Minnesota. The decision was the second assumption of jurisdiction granted by the Department of Justice under the landmark Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, which gave the Department discretion to accept concurrent federal jurisdiction to prosecute violations of the General Crimes Act and the Major Crimes Act within areas of Indian country that are also subject to state criminal jurisdiction under Public Law 280. The decision regarding the Mille Lacs Band will take effect on January 1, 2017.
Indian Country Criminal Investigator Training Program. The Indian Country Criminal Investigator Training Program is a joint training collaboration between FBI and BIA-OJS, hosted at FLETC-West in Artesia, New Mexico. The Indian Police Academy staff and the FBI Indian Country Crimes Unit developed a course focused on preparing to work on various crimes on Indian reservations. It includes expert instruction from a forensic pediatrician, a pathologist, and experts on investigations of child abuse and violent crimes under the Major Crimes Act. Students also receive 24 hours of forensic evidence collection; the course concludes with a practical exercise where students process a crime scene and determine investigative steps. The course will be run twice yearly and each session will have up to 24 students.
Tribal Re-entry. On April 29, 2016, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum appointing the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, a Cabinet-level working group comprised of more than 20 member agencies, to coordinate and leverage existing federal reentry resources; dispel myths and clarify policies related to reentry; elevate reentry programs and effective policies; and reduce policy barriers to successful reentry. As a part of the broader effort, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has developed resources on Tribal Reentry including: BJA Tribal Reentry Fact Sheet; National Reentry Resource Center’s Tribal Affairs Page; American Probation and Parole Association website; and Strategies for Creating Offender Reentry Programs in Indian Country.
Consolidating Tribal Lands. Authorized by the Cobell Settlement in 2009, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests at fair market value within 10 years, DOI’s Land Buy-Back Program has paid more than $850 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million acres of land for tribes. The program has announced the next 105 locations, which includes more than 96 percent of landowners with fractional interests and more than 98 percent of both fractional interests and equivalent acres in program-eligible area.
Supporting Federally-Recognized Tribal Governments to Request a Presidential Emergency or Major Disaster Declaration. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (SRIA) amended the Stafford Act to provide tribal governments the option to request a Presidential emergency or major disaster declaration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working to finalize the Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance, which describes the process for tribal governments to request Stafford Act declarations and associated disaster assistance while the Agency prepares for and conducts a notice and rulemaking process to implement this provision of SRIA through regulations. FEMA’s 90-day consultation period on the second draft of the Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance received nearly 800 comments from over 500 tribal officials, representing 178 federally-recognized tribal governments. FEMA aims to publish the guidance this fall to begin the pilot period.
Implementing the Forest Service Trust Responsibility. National Forests and Grasslands often hold a historic connection to America’s first stewards, and USDA is working to align its procedures with this unique relationship. In 2016, the USDA Forest Service published the final Tribal Relations Directives, which provide more consistency and efficacy in consultations with Tribal Nations and helps Forest Service employees understand the requirements, complexities and opportunities of tribal relations. The Directives describe the Forest Service’s responsibility to implement programs and activities consistent with, and respecting, Indian treaty rights and fulfilling the federal government’s trust responsibility with Indian tribes.
Strengthening Sovereignty. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appointed the first-ever Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs on May 16, 2016. Located in the Office of the Secretary, this position will serve as the liaison between tribes and tribal governments and the Department of Transportation. The Department also began the process of developing a Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program (TTSGP). This program will provide tribes with an additional option on how they would like to carry out their transportation programs. DOT initiated the negotiated rulemaking process to propose regulations that would direct the TTSGP. The TTSGP Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, composed of tribal transportation leaders and federal officials, has already begun its work.
Connecting Communities, and Improving Infrastructures. The Tribal Transit Program at the Federal Transit Administration is expanding its technical assistance efforts to tribes receiving funds through the Tribal Transit Technical Assistance Assessments initiative. Through these assessments, FTA collaborates with tribal transit leaders to review processes and identify areas in need of improvement and then assist with solutions to address these needs—all in a supportive and mutually beneficial manner. The FTA has performed 30 assessments and will continue these efforts. The Tribal Transportation Program is the largest program in the Office of Federal Lands Highway at the Federal Highway Administration, which is authorized at $465 million in FY 2016.
Prioritizing Tribal Connectivity. Broadband is essential in the 21st Century, but today too many lack high speed access. The Administration has prioritized increasing broadband capabilities across Indian Country: as part of ConnectED, an initiative designed to connect schools and libraries to the digital age, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E-rate program provided broadband, Wi-Fi, and telecommunications funding to 245 tribal schools serving over 60,000 students and 31 tribal libraries last funding year alone; the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) published a planning toolkit for tribal governments to develop a Community Broadband Roadmap for building broadband networks, enhancing public computer centers, expanding broadband to unserved areas, encouraging public-private partnerships, and promoting broadband connectivity to homes, businesses and institutions; and starting December 1st, the enhanced Lifeline program subsidy, which is available to low-income people living on Tribal lands, can be used to help cover the cost of broadband service. Additionally, as a step towards providing tribal communities and entities with the resources they need to deploy broadband infrastructure, today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service is announcing that it will aim to double its annual investment in telecom broadband loans in Indian Country—to $50 million in FY17—and dedicate staff to providing tribes with technical assistance to help unlock existing resources. And because broadband is critical to creating opportunity for Native Youth, the President’s Budget proposed significant investments in education information IT to enhance broadband and digital access for students at BIE-funded schools.
Sponsoring for Clean Energy. During 2016, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs (Indian Energy) will obligate nearly $15 million in direct support of clean energy deployment by tribes (Indian tribes and their governmental instrumentalities, including Alaska Native villages, Alaska Native Regional Corporations and Village Corporations, and Tribal Energy Resource Development Organizations). On August 17, DOE’s Office of Indian Energy announced the availability of up to $3 million to initiate the first steps toward developing and sustaining renewable energy and energy efficiency on tribal lands.
Improving Access to Data for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN). In 2016, BIA and the Census Bureau signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a first step in identifying and addressing AIAN data quality and availability issues. As a result of the MOU, BIA and Census are sharing geospatial data to improve the accuracy of tribal boundaries in time for the 2020 Census; a federal interagency work group was established to promote communication and collaboration; an inventory of existing federal AIAN data collections was developed to identify data gaps and establish a baseline for progress; and a series of workshops to address AIAN data issues is being planned.
Refining, Expanding and Engaging in Tribal Consultation. In FY 2016, HUD published its revised tribal consultation policy, proposed a tribal advisory committee, and completed negotiated rulemaking. HUD issued a Federal Register Notice seeking public comment on a proposed Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee to further facilitate communication between HUD and Federally-recognized Indian tribes on all HUD programs. In January, HUD completed negotiated rulemaking with tribal representatives on the Indian Housing Block Grant funding formula.
Tracking Federal Initiatives to Build Resilience in Indian Country. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the White House Council on Native American Affairs Environment, Climate, and Natural Resources Subgroup, have developed a progress report on the Tribal Supplemental Recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The report identifies programs and policies that Federal agencies have developed or updated in response to the Tribal Supplemental Recommendations, which focus on the specific and unique perspectives of Native communities to build resilience to the impacts of climate change. Read more about it here.
Supporting the Delivery of Traditional Foods in Indian Country. The 2014 Farm Bill provided additional flexibility for USDA to incorporate traditional foods into the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) program managed by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. In 2016, USDA increased the quantity and variety of traditional foods being distributed to low-income families and the elderly through FDPIR through the purchase of 120,000 pounds of bison, 216,000 pounds of frozen wild salmon, 55,000 pounds of wild rice, and 646,000 pounds of blue cornmeal, much of it supplied by Native American-owned businesses.
Partnering to Build Resilience in Tribal Communities. Two new partnerships will enable 160 AmeriCorps VISTA members to serve in Tribal communities over the next three years. The Resilience AmeriCorps program will place AmeriCorps VISTA members at 55 tribal locations to boost their capacity to prepare for severe weather. This expansion includes Conservation Legacy, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Enterprise Community Partners, Tribal Colleges and Universities and Tribal Housing Authorities. Building on the Let’s Move in Indian Country and Seeds of Native Health initiatives, AmeriCorps VISTA is also joining with the University of Arkansas Law School’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Institute and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe to place AmeriCorps VISTA members in 10 tribes to help develop agricultural opportunities and nutritional priorities to benefit Tribal members.
Combating Climate Change in Tribal Nations: Climate Resilience Toolkit. In 2015, the Administration expanded the Climate Resilience Toolkit to include a new "Tribal Nations" theme, comprised of more than 40 resources—with more to be added in the future—to assist Tribal nations in climate change planning, adaptation, and mitigation. Resources include a comprehensive Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning Toolkit, and a set of guidelines for considering traditional knowledge in climate change initiatives. In July 2016, NOAA, in collaboration with the U.S. Global Change Research Program and a number of agencies, released new capabilities through the Climate Resilience Toolkit; these included county-scale climate projections for the continental United States, making climate information more locally relevant.
Engaging Communities and Connecting with Technical Experts and Resources through Community-based Data Collection. In 2015, EPA’s Indian Environmental General Assistance Program provided a grant to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), to support the release of a Local Environmental Observer (LEO) App. Expanding on the successful computer-based tool, the App allows observers to share photos and text from the field, complete with GPS locations. The LEO Network provides a model for engaging communities and connecting with technical experts and resources to allow communities to monitor, respond to, and adapt to new impacts and health effects. LEO experts apply local and traditional knowledge, western science and modern technology to record and share observations and to raise awareness about the conditions in the circumpolar north. Due to the success of the program, EPA and ANTHC are working to expand LEO internationally and in the Lower 48.
Building Knowledge and Connection for Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources. In May 2016, the Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources Subgroup—part of the White House Council on Native American Affairs—hosted a convening for Tribal leaders and Administration leadership to discuss the impacts of climate change on their Tribal communities. The Subgroup launched the Federal Tribal Climate Change Resource Guide-an online portal that creates a centralized place for Tribal government professionals to locate available resources from the federal government. This guide enables Tribal governments to identify resources, tools and expert advice from multiple agencies.
Supporting Resiliency through Native Language and Culture. The Administration for Native Americans recently awarded nearly $3 million in funds under two new grant programs to support Native youth. The Native Language Community Coordination Demonstration Projects is a five-year demonstration project that will enable communities to increase their capacity to address gaps in providing continuous Native language instruction from childhood through post-secondary education. The Native Youth Initiative for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (I-LEAD) funding will support community programs that promote Native American youth resiliency and foster protective factors such as connections with Native American languages and elders, positive peer groups, models of safe sanctuary, and more.
Protecting Confidential Information. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has issued a "Frequently Asked Questions" guidance document on protecting sensitive information about historic properties under Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Federal agency officials, State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO/THPO), Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and other stakeholders in the Section 106 process often ask ACHP staff how sensitive information about historic properties can be protected from public disclosure. This new guidance, available here, builds upon the successful Section 304 Webinar the ACHP offers about how Section 304 works to protect such information and thereby prevent harm to historic properties. In developing this guidance, the ACHP coordinated closely with the NPS’ Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places program to ensure these FAQs identify the most commonly asked questions and provide helpful guidance to Section 106 practitioners as well as members of the public regarding what information may be withheld from disclosure, under what circumstances, and for what reasons.
Preserving Tribal Culture and Values by Supporting Efforts to Repatriate Cultural Items from Abroad. DOJ has launched an interagency group on cultural property with DOI, the Department of State, and DHS, with a focus on international repatriation. Next steps include strengthening interagency cooperation, responding to Congressional requests for information and comments on legislation, and holding government-to-government consultations on international repatriation, which will be launched at the 2016 Tribal Nations Conference.
Working with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The ACHP issued new guidance about the linkages between the U.N. Declaration and tribal and Native Hawaiian preservation issues in the Section 106 review process. The guidance helps federal agencies understand the right of indigenous peoples to participate in decision making when their rights would be affected, including with respect to the destruction of historic properties or sacred places of religious or cultural significance. The ACHP has extensively promoted the Declaration within the historic preservation community and issued initial guidance regarding Section 106 consultation and the Declaration.
Sacred Sites MOU Executive Committee Announces New Training. As part of the deliverables of the Sacred Sites MOU, the Executive Committee of the Sacred Sites MOU is announcing the release of "Native American Sacred Sites and the Federal Government, A Training for Federal Employees and Contract Staff Developed under the Sacred Sites Memorandum of Understanding," a comprehensive online training module for federal employees and contractors, which is also available for free to the public. The Sacred Sites MOU was signed by DOD, USDA, DOI, DOE, and ACHP to improve the protection of and tribal access to Indian sacred sites on federally managed land."

        " Obama Administration Exceeds Ambitious Goal to Restore 500,000 Acres of Tribal Homelands," Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior, October 12, 2016, stated in part, "U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Lawrence S. "Larry" Roberts announced that the Obama Administration has exceeded its goal of placing half a million acres of tribal homelands into trust for federally recognized tribes."

     "The 500,000 acre goal was surpassed Friday when President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Nevada Native Nations Lands Act, which conveys more than 71,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands to the U.S. Department of the Interior to place into federal trust status for six Nevada tribes. The tribes will use their newly acquired lands to expand housing, provide economic development opportunities and promote cultural activities for and by their tribal members."

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Congressional Developments

     "Indian Trust Asset Reform Bill Enacted," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-040, June 27, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-040, reported, "On June 22, 2016, the President signed HR 812 as PL 114-178, the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (Act). The Act reaffirms the responsibility of the United States to Indian tribes; authorizes a demonstration project for tribes to voluntarily negotiate with the Secretary of the Interior to manage their own trust assets; creates the option for the Secretary to establish an Under Secretary for Indian Affairs; and sets up a process to terminate the Office of the Special Trustee. HR 812 was introduced by Representatives Simpson (R-ID); Cole (R-OK); and Heck (D-WA). Companion legislation was introduced by Senator Crapo (R-ID). A copy of HR 812, as presented to the President for signature, is here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114hr812enr/pdf/BILLS-114hr812enr.pdf.
Background. The Act is generally considered to be the first major trust reform bill enacted since the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act of 1994 (PL 103-412)— the legislation which was responsible for the creation of the Office of the Special Trustee in the first place. Previous iterations of the Act had been introduced and debated in the past several Congresses but never enacted. Below we briefly describe each title.
Title I – Recognition of Trust Responsibility. This title reaffirms the responsibility of the United States to Indian tribes and sets forth congressional findings recognizing the federal trust responsibility, including a duty to promote tribal self-determination regarding governmental authority and economic development.
Title II – Indian Trust Asset Management Demonstration Project. This title directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish and carry out an Indian trust asset management demonstration project. In order to participate, a tribe must first submit a written application which is subject to Secretarial approval. After approval, a tribe is to then submit a proposed Indian trust asset management plan (proposed plan). The proposed plan is required to include provisions that: identify the trust assets that will be the subject of the plan; establish objectives and priorities for these assets; allocate funding to meet these objectives and priorities; establish procedures for non-binding mediation or resolution of any dispute between the tribe and the federal government relating to the plan; establish a process for the tribe and the federal agencies affected by the plan to conduct evaluations of compliance with the plan; and identify any federal regulations that will be superseded by the plan. If the tribe has contracted or compacted functions or activities under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) relating to the management of trust assets then the proposed plan is also required to include provisions that identify the functions or activities that are being or will be performed by the tribe under the contracts, compacts, or other agreements under the Act (such as the forest land management and surface leasing activities described below) and describe the practices and procedures that the tribe will follow. During the development of the proposed plan, the Secretary is required to provide technical assistance. The Secretary may not approve a proposed plan unless it is consistent with federal treaties, statutes, and executive orders applicable to the trust assets or their management. The Secretary must approve or disapprove a proposed plan within 120 days of submission. This demonstration project will remain in effect for ten years after the date of enactment but may be extended at the Secretary's discretion.
Title II also includes a section on forest land management and surface leasing. This section allows the Secretary to approve a proposed plan which includes or incorporates by reference tribal surface leasing and/or forest land management regulations that would allow the tribe to conduct such activities under tribal regulation without separately obtaining Secretarial approval. 'Forest land management activities' are defined by reference in section 304(4) of the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act. 'Surface leasing transaction' means a residential, business, agricultural, or wind or solar resources lease of trust land or of fee land subject to restrictions against alienation. This section also provides that tribes may choose to submit a separate approval request to the Secretary for tribal regulations governing forest land management activities, even if that tribe does not submit or intend to submit an Indian trust asset management plan.
Title III – Improving Efficiency and Streamlining Processes. This title has four main sections.
Sec. 303 authorizes the Secretary to establish the position of Under Secretary for Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior. Among the Under Secretary's designated duties would be the requirement that the Under Secretary coordinate with the Special Trustee for American Indians in order to ensure the orderly transition of Special Trustee functions to one or more appropriate federal entities. The Under Secretary would coordinate Bureau of Indian Affairs policies with the: Bureau of Reclamation; Bureau of Land Management; Office of Natural Resources Revenue; National Park Service; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Under Secretary would also provide for regular consultation with Indians and Indian tribes who own interests in trust resources and trust fund accounts.
Sec. 304 requires the Secretary, one year from the date of enactment, to prepare a report, in consultation with Indian tribes which includes a transition plan for the Office of the Special Trustee (OST) to terminate within two years of the date of the report, unless the Secretary determines that an orderly transition cannot be accomplished within that timeframe. If the Secretary determines that more time is needed to complete the transition, the Secretary must submit an explanatory report and suggest an alternative transition date for congressional approval. This section also provides that tribes and tribal consortia may include OST fiduciary trust officers in their ISDEAA agreements.
Sec. 305 requires the Secretary, in consultation with tribes, to ensure that appraisals and valuations of Indian trust property are administered within 18 months of the date of enactment by a single entity within the Department of the Interior. This section also requires the Secretary to establish minimum qualifications for persons to prepare appraisals and valuations of Indian trust property. Once these minimum standards are met, the appraisals and valuations will not require Secretarial review or approval.
Sec. 306 requires the Secretary to identify any resulting cost savings from any function or activity that OST will not have to operate or carry out as a result of any transfer of functions or personnel under Title III and provide this information to the Tribal-Interior Budget Council (TIBC) or other appropriate advisory committee. The TBIC or other advisory committee may provide recommendations within 90 days of receiving such information on how any cost savings should be reallocated, incorporated into future budget requests, or appropriated."

         "Native American Children's Safety Act Signed into Law," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-037, June 17, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-037, reported, "On June 3, 2016, the President signed S 184 as PL 114-165, the Native American Children's Safety Act (Act). The Act prescribes certain background check requirements to be undertaken by tribal social service agencies for tribal court-ordered foster care placements. S 184 was introduced by Senators Hoeven (R-ND) and Tester (D-MT) and companion legislation was introduced by Representative Cramer (R-ND). A copy of the Act is attached.
Tribes are already subject to criminal background check requirements for tribally-licensed foster care placements per Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) guidance issued pursuant to the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (PL 99-570). At the same time, tribes who administer the Social Security Act's Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Act have additional background check requirements, creating overlapping and, in some cases, inconsistent requirements. There are also approximately 100 state-tribal Title IV-E agreements which may include background check requirement for tribes who are party to those agreements. The Native American Children's Safety Act amends PL 99-570 by incorporating into it the background check provisions found in the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Act.
The Act specifies that tribal social services agencies must:
Undertake criminal records check of each 'covered individual' who resides in the household or is employed at the institution in which the foster care placement will be made, and
• Conclude that each covered individual meets such standards as the tribe establishes.
A covered individual is any person 18 years of age or older and any person who the tribal social services agency determines is subject to a criminal records check. A home may not be licensed as a foster care home nor a child placed there if a covered individual has been found by a federal, state, or tribal court to have committed any crime set out in 42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20(A)) which is part of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
Criminal record checks are to include:
• Fingerprint-based checks of national crime information data bases;
• Checking of abuse registries maintained by the tribe, and any child abuse and neglect registry maintained by the state; and
• Any additional requirement that the tribe may determine is necessary and permissible.
In cases of emergency foster care placements, background checks do not need to be completed before the child is placed in a home.
An issue that received significant attention during the consideration of S 184 was the one of adults who take residence in a home after background checks have been completed and the child has been placed there. Thus, the Act includes the new requirement that tribes establish procedures to recertify foster homes at periodic intervals regarding the safety of the home and also for the purpose of background checks on adults who were not in the home at the time of the child's placement.
Consultation/Guidance. Finally, the Act requires the Department of Interior to consult with tribes and to issue guidance or regulations regarding procedures for criminal records checks and for self-reporting by the head of the household or the operator of the institution who has knowledge of individuals in the home or institution who have been convicted of certain crimes or listed on a child abuse registry. Other topics for consultation are 'promising practices' for emergency foster care placements and certification of compliance with the Act.
We bring to your attention two of our General Memoranda regarding federal agency efforts to expand tribal access to national crime information data bases and BIA procedures for use in background checks for emergency child placements:
• General Memorandum 16-062 of August 25, 2015: Departments of Justice and Interior Introduce Two Programs to Expand Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases, and
• General Memorandum 15-065 of September 15, 2015: BIA Implementation Procedures for the purpose Code X program: For Use in Background Checks for Emergency Child Placements."

     "Commission on Native American Children Signed into Law," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-062, October 17, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-062, reported, "On October 14, 2016, President Obama signed S 246, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act, into law. The Act authorizes the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission (Commission), over a three-year period, to evaluate and make recommendations regarding ways to improve tribal, state, and federal programs affecting Native children. The title of the Act is a tribute to Alyce Spotted Bear, a former Chairwoman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arika Nation and Walter Soboleff, a Tlingt elder statesman, scholar and religious leader. While the law provides that the Commission is to be located in the Office of Tribal Justice in the Department of Justice, the President's signing statement says that it will be considered an independent entity outside of the executive branch, explaining:
While I welcome the creation of this Commission, it cannot be located in the executive branch consistent with the separation of powers because it includes legislative branch appointees (who here are empowered to direct other executive branch agencies to provide additional resources to the Commission). I am therefore instructing the Attorney General to treat the Commission as an independent entity, separate from the executive branch.
The President's signing statement may be found here:
The legislation was introduced in January of 2015 by Senator Heitkamp (D-ND) along with Senator Murkowski (R-AK). A companion bill, HR 2751, was introduced in June of 2015 by Representative McCollum (D-MN) with Representatives Cole (R-OK), Takai (D-HI) and Denham (R-CA) as original cosponsors.
The Act authorizes an ambitious agenda for the Commission whose members would be appointed by the President and by congressional leadership. Assisting the Commission would be a Native Advisory Committee consisting of one representative of tribes from each of the Bureau of Indian Affairs regions and one person who is Native Hawaiian.
Among the issues to be studied by the Commission are the impacts of concurrent jurisdiction on child welfare systems, federal and private funding barriers, data collection, sustainability of programs, cultural and socioeconomic challenges, examples of successful programs, and interagency coordination issues. The Act includes a lengthy list of subjects that the Commission's recommendations are to address.
The Senate bill as introduced included a $2 million authorization for the expenses associated with the work of the Commission. However, the House deleted the funding authorization and the bill as enacted does not include a specific funding authorization.
The Act provides that the Commission may approve the detailing of one or more employees from the Departments of Justice, Interior, Education, and Health and Human Services to work with them. The work of the Commission and the Advisory Committee will need to be undertaken with available funds."

        "Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act Signed into Law," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-060, October 7, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-060, reported, "On September 23, 2016 , President Obama signed into law S 1579, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience Act (NATIVE Act) as PL 114-221. The NATIVE Act is designed to facilitate international and domestic tourism in tribal communities via updating federal agency tourism strategies and providing increased resources and technical assistance to tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations for their tourism efforts. The focus of the NATIVE Act is the utilization tribal communities' rich and diverse cultures and histories in the visitor experience.
This legislation received bipartisan support and was sponsored by Senator Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Mullin (R-OK). Supporting organizations included the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives, and various tourism organizations.
Under the NATIVE Act, those federal agencies which have management plans and tourism strategies are instructed to consult with tribes regarding updating agency plans to include Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Native Hawaiian organizations. The Act specifically lists the Departments of Commerce and Interior as among these agencies. The updated plans are to outline policy proposals on ways to increase and enhance tourism through improved: tourism data and analysis; agency websites and publications; visitor portals that feature Native heritage and language; accessible transportation; trade opportunities; and identification of agency programs to support tourism capacity-building.
The Secretary of Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, is instructed to enter into a memorandum of understanding or cooperative agreement 'with an entity or organization with a demonstrated record in tribal communities of defining, introducing, developing, and sustaining American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian tourism and related activities in a manner that respects and honors native traditions and values." This organization is to facilitate efforts between the Departments of Commerce and Interior and to work with tribes on identifying technical assistance needs and delivery of that assistance.
The Act also instructs other federal agencies take actions to showcase Native traditions and history, to support tribal efforts to promote visitation, and to establish public-private partnerships geared to travelers, both domestic and international, who are arriving at airports and ports of entry. The Administration for Native Americans, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities are encouraged to provide grants to support tribes' development of visitor programs and in using the arts and humanities to celebrate their diversity.
The Smithsonian Institution is instructed to collaborate with tribes and other organizations to develop partnerships with non-Smithsonian museums and organizations to share their collections and to undertake joint research and other projects that would support tribal tourism efforts.
The text of the NATIVE Act may be found here: https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1579/BILLS-114s1579enr.pdf."

     "Opioid Legislation Approved by Congress," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-048, July 22, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-048, reported, " The House and the Senate have approved legislation aimed at addressing the urgent national issue of opioid abuse. This includes both the misuse of a certain class of pain medicines and the use of heroin. The skyrocketing death rates and the number of infants born affected by opioids around the nation prompted many congressional committees to hold hearings on this issue, including the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) (S. 524; conference report – H. Rept. 114-669) was approved by the House on July 8 by a vote of 407-5 and by the Senate on July 13 by a margin of 92-2. CARA contains tribal eligibility for a number of competitive grant programs; but there is no tribal-specific allocation of funds. An early effort to include a tribal allocation in the Senate's version of the legislation did not succeed.
The vote margins belie the strong differences of opinion over this legislation. The Administration and congressional Democrats strongly supported mandatory emergency funding to address the opioid crisis while congressional Republicans stood firm for discretionary funding provided through appropriations bills. The Republicans prevailed. Up until the time of the floor votes it was not certain whether Democrats would vote for the bill. Efforts by Democrats in both Houses to provide additional emergency mandatory funding failed. House Republicans point out correctly that in the pending FY 2017 appropriations bills there is recommended funding for efforts to address opioid abuse, notably the Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) bills. The prospects of enacting any FY 2017 appropriations bills is problematic and we expect a FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (CR) of some indeterminate length of time, possibly into December or even longer. Funding could be provided in a CR under the relatively rare addition of an "anomaly".
As of this writing CARA has not yet been transmitted to the White House for signature. President Obama, while disappointed with the bill, has said that he will sign it.
CARA covers a wide range of issues including prescribing practices; pain management and research; access to opioid overdose reversal drugs; medication-assisted treatment; prescription electronic reporting; HHS opioid education campaigns, including one geared to youth injured in sports; codification of several existing federal agency practices regarding opioid abuse; a DOJ new Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program; allowance under some circumstances for partial refill of prescriptions for controlled substances; and prescription and pain management provisions specific to prevention of prescription drug abuse under Medicare and Medicaid. It also has provisions specific to drug-addicted infants, residential treatment grants for pregnant and postpartum women, and the Veterans Health Administration.
Below is information on sections of CARA which specifically mention tribes:
Section 107. Improving Access to Overdose Treatment. No later than 180 days after the enactment the Secretary of HHS may provide information to health care facilities of the Indian Health Service on "best practices for prescribing or co-prescribing a drug or device approved or cleared under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301 et. seq.) for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose, including for patients receiving chronic opioid therapy and patients being treated for opioid use disorders." Similar provisions are included for the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Administration for their health facilities. Section 107 also authorizes $5 million in grants for Federally Qualified Health Centers and others from FY 2017 through 2021 for expansion of access to drugs or devices for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.
Section 201. Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program. The Attorney General is authorized to make grants to Indian tribes and state and local governments to provide services primarily relating to opioid abuse; developing, implementing, or expanding a treatment alternative to incarceration programs; training criminal justice agency personnel on substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders; the development of a mental health court; the development of a drug court; the development of a veterans treatment court program; creating programs focused on parents whose incarceration could result in their children entering the child welfare system; and the development of community-based substance use diversion programs sponsored by a law enforcement agency.
Tribes, state and local governments that are awarded a grant from this program may use all or a portion of that grant to contract with, or make one or more sub-awards to, one or more of the following (1) local or regional organizations that are private and nonprofit, including faith-based organizations; (2) units of local government; or (3) tribal organizations.
To request a grant, the chief executive officer of a tribe, state or local government must submit an application to the Attorney General and include the following:
" (1) A certification that Federal funds made available under this part will not be used to supplant State, local, or tribal funds, but will be used to increase the amounts of such funds that would, in the absence of Federal funds, be made available for the activities described in section 3021(a).
(2) An assurance that, for each fiscal year covered by an application, the applicant shall maintain and report such data, records, and information (programmatic and financial) as the Attorney General may reasonably require.
(3) A certification, made in a form acceptable to the Attorney General and executed by the chief executive officer of the applicant (or by another officer of the applicant, if qualified under regulations promulgated by the Attorney General),
(A) the activities or services to be funded by the grant meet all the requirements of this part;
(B) all the information contained in the application is correct;
(C) there has been appropriate coordination with affected agencies; and
(D) the applicant will comply with all provisions of this part and all other applicable Federal laws.
(4) An assurance that the applicant will work with the Drug Enforcement Administration to develop an integrated and comprehensive strategy to address opioid abuse."
Included is a provision to ensure that services may be provided to pregnant women who are eligible for grants under the Family-Based Substance Abuse Grant Program. (Section 501 of the bill also reauthorizes a grant program for residential treatment of pregnant and postpartum women who have an opioid use order, including assistance for their children).
The CARA authorizes $103 million in each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 for this grant program. The Attorney General is to distribute funds that "equitably address the needs of underserved populations, including rural and tribal communities; and focuses on communities that have been disproportionately impacted by opioid abuse…"
Section 202. First Responder Training. CARA codifies an existing grant program whereby HHS provides grants to tribes, tribal organizations, states and local governments that will allow "first responders and other key community sectors to administer a drug or device approved or cleared under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose." Grantees are also to use funds for training and to establish processes and protocols for referral to proper treatment. At least 20 percent of funds are to be awarded to entities that are not located in metropolitan statistical areas.
CARA authorizes $12 million annually for this grant program for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021.
Section 301 . Evidence-Based Prescription Opioid and Heroin Treatment and Interventions Demonstration. CARA codifies an existing Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration program for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements with tribes, tribal organizations, state substance abuse agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations to expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment and other clinically-appropriate services. Funds are for use in areas where there is a high rate or rapid increase in the use of heroin or other opioids.
CARA authorizes $25 million in each of fiscal years 2017 through 2012 for this program.
Pain Management Task Force. We also point out that Section 101 would establish a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force which would have a large number of representatives including HHS, relevant HHS agencies (presumably the Indian Health Service) and experts in the field of minority health. The Secretary of HHS is to ensure that the Task Force membership includes individuals representing rural and underserved areas. The Task Force is to study whether there are gaps or inconsistencies among federal agencies in their pain management best practices and to propose updates and recommendations regarding the same. The Task Force does not have rulemaking authority.
The Conference Report on CARA is available: https://www.congress.gov/114/crpt/hrpt669/CRPT-114hrpt669.pdf."

        The U.S. Senate passed an infrastructure bill, September 15, 2016, that includes a provision for accelerated reimbursement to tribes and states for monitoring of the waters, including the San Juan River, impacted by the Gold King mine spill in Colorado in 2015. This most particularly effects the Navajo and Southern Ute nations (Alysa Landry, "Senate Passes Gold King Spill," Navajo Times, September 22, 2016).

         "Efforts to Enhance Protection of Native American Cultural Objects, General Memorandum 16-069, October 28, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-069, reported, "The Firm has recently been involved in a number of efforts designed to expand protection of Native American cultural objects, both by keeping them at home with their tribal communities and facilitating their repatriation domestically and internationally.
Tribes' possession and protection of their cultural objects, including their sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony, is imperative for their cultural practices and ability to pass those practices down to future generations. Unfortunately, many of these important cultural objects are illegally removed from tribes and trafficked domestically and internationally. Once abroad, tribes are forced to fight often-losing battles to regain possession of them. The Pueblo of Acoma has significant firsthand experience with this problem, and it is currently fighting for the repatriation from France of an important shield.
For this reason, a better understanding of the extent of the problem and possible solutions, better coordination between federal agencies, and stronger legislation is necessary. Rep. Pearce (R-NM), Sen. Udall (D-NM), and Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) have been instrumental in championing the legislative efforts now underway, with bipartisan support, including Sen. Flake (R-AZ), Sen. McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Cole (R-OK), and others. Representatives from the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of State (State), Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice (DOJ) are also important partners in these efforts.
PROTECT Patrimony Resolution
The initiative that has progressed the farthest to date is the Protection of the Right of Tribes to Stop the Export of Cultural and Traditional (PROTECT) Patrimony Resolution. The Resolution is designed to acknowledge the problem of illegal removal and trafficking of protected Native American cultural objects and to call for certain preliminary actions. It supports congressional development of an explicit restriction on exportation, calls on federal agencies to consult with tribes to find ways to address the problem, and calls on state and local governments and other stakeholders to work cooperatively to resolve the problem.
The House version of the Resolution, H.Con.Res. 122, was introduced on March 2, 2016 by Rep. Pearce. It gathered broad bipartisan support, with 16 Representatives signing on as cosponsors. The House passed the Resolution on September 21, 2016. Rep. Pearce in a congressional statement described the Resolution as Congress stating that it wants to study the problem of illegal removal and trafficking, determine ways to do better, and then resolve the problem. The Senate version, S.Con.Res. 49, was introduced on July 14, 2016, by Sen. Udall and passed on September 29, 2016. Although the two versions are largely substantively the same, and have been amended to bring them closer together, they are not identical.
The Resolutions, while approved by the House and Senate, do not have the force of law but are important in expressing the views of Congress and have added impetus for enactment of legislation on this matter in the next Congress.
Another legislative initiative moving forward is the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act. The STOP Act strengthens existing federal laws. It applies to "Native American cultural objects," which it defines to include "cultural items" protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), "archaeological resources" protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), and "objects of antiquity" protected by the Antiquities Act.
The STOP Act increases NAGPRA penalties, prohibits exportation of Native American cultural objects, and provides a limited immunity from federal prosecution when individuals repatriate Native American cultural objects. It also calls on the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in conjunction with specific agencies, to prepare a report covering the scope of illegal trafficking, the extent of prosecutions that take place under existing federal laws, and recommendations for eliminating trafficking and securing repatriation. Last, it creates a tribal working group to contribute information for the GAO report and to provide advice regarding methods for implementing the report's recommendations.
The Senate version of the STOP Act, S 3127, was introduced on July 6, 2016, by Sen. Heinrich. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The House version, HR 5854, was introduced on July 14, 2016, by Rep. Lujan (D-NM). It has been referred to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittees.
The two versions of the STOP Act mirror each other. However, congressional staff have solicited comments from federal agencies and have also received feedback from tribes, collectors, and other stakeholders. Therefore, the bill may see amendments based on this feedback before its passage. Specifically, there is a focus on finding a way to better define or provide guidance regarding the items that qualify as protected Native American cultural objects—which is really an attempt to better define the items protected under existing federal laws, without compromising tribal sensitivities.
Funding for Cultural Items Unit
An additional legislative effort is to secure funding for a Cultural Items Unit, see H. Rept. 114-632. The House Committee on Appropriations in a June 21, 2016, report approved for inclusion in the fiscal year 2017 DOI budget $1,000,000 for a Cultural Items Unit that would be located within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Law Enforcement and tasked with investing violations of NAGPRA and other similar federal laws.
GAO Report
On June 28, 2016, congressional representatives requested and on August 11, 2016, the GAO agreed to undertake a study on illegal removal and trafficking of Native American cultural objects. The GAO was asked to study the actions the federal government has taken to prevent illegal removal and trafficking, the status of the federal government's efforts to secure repatriation, the results of enforcement actions, and the market for illegal trafficking. The report requested is similar but not identical to the report requested in the STOP Act and a report that was initially requested in earlier versions of the PROTECT Patrimony Resolution.
Those who made the request include Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), who serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who serves as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations; and Rep. Pearce.
DOI Tribal Consultations
While these legislative efforts proceed forward, federal agencies are also working to find ways to better protect Native American cultural objects, and specifically to secure repatriation from abroad. DOI has held various listening sessions and on September 27, 2016, held its first tribal consultation. Also participating in these sessions were representatives from State and DOJ.
These agency efforts are due in part to the Pueblo of Acoma's recent work to regain possession of a shield, which was stolen from the Pueblo but recently was listed for sale at a Paris auction house. This work has required coordinating with federal officials across the federal government. Although the federal agencies have not yet determined what the final product from these sessions will be, they have indicated that they are seeking comments on pending legislative efforts. They also appear to be considering creating an interagency guidance document that would direct federal agency and tribal officials regarding the procedures federal agencies would utilize to protect Native American cultural objects and facilitate repatriation, which would undoubtedly incorporate lessons learned from repatriation efforts related to the Pueblo of Acoma's shield."

        Rick Kearns, "Protecting Sacred Objects Bill Introduced In Senate," ICTMN, August 7, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/protecting-sacred-objects-bill-introduced-in-senate/, reported, " Preventing the exportation and sale of sacred objects and creating harsher penalties for these and related crimes are the goals of the recently introduced Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act that has bipartisan and tribal support.
On July 6, United States Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) announced the introduction of the STOP Act at a press conference in Washington, D.C."

        Senate Names Conferees for Comprehensive Energy Legislation, Creating a Path Forward; Tribal Input Needed," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-046, July 19, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-046, reported " On July 12, 2016, the Senate voted to go to conference with the House on legislation that would be the first major update to national energy policy in nearly a decade. If some version of this legislation is enacted, it could be that long again before Congress considers another update. The House and Senate have put forward dramatically different visions of what this update should look like (including very different tribal-specific provisions), which we detailed in our General Memorandum 16-041 of June 27, 2016. Given that Congress does not return from recess until September 6, 2016, now is an excellent time for tribes to review this legislation and weigh in with their respective congressional delegations.
The fact that the Senate voted to go to conference with the House is itself, significant. Citing far-reaching concerns with the House's version of the legislation and a Presidential veto threat, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Vice Chair Cantwell (D-WA) had resisted voting to go to conference. Reportedly, a deal has been reached for some of the more partisan elements of the House bill to be excluded, clearing the way for the conference process to commence.
Senate Conferees: Murkowski (R-AK); Barrasso (R-WY); Risch (R-ID); Cornyn (R-TX); Cantwell (D-WA); Wyden (D-OR), and Sanders (I-VT).
House Conferees: Upton (R-MI); Barton (R-TX); Whitfield (R-KY); Shimkus (R-IL); Latta (R-OH); McMorris Rodgers (R-WA); Olson (R-TX); McKinley (R-WV); Pompeo (R-KS); Griffith (R-VA); Johnson (R-OH); Flores (R-TX); Mullin (R-OK); Conaway (R-TX); Thompson (R-PA); Bishop (R-UT); Young (R-AK); Lummis (R-WY); Denham (R-CA); Westerman (R-AR); Smith (R-TX); Weber (R-TX); Hardy (R-NV); Zeldin (R-NY); Pallone (D-NJ); Rush (D-IL); Capps (D-CA); Matsui (D-CA); Castor (D-FL); Sarbanes (D-MD); Welch (D-VT); Lujan (D-NM); Tonko (D-NY); Loebsack (D-IA); Peterson (D-MN); Grijalva (D-AZ); Huffman (D-CA); Dingell (D-MI); Johnson (D-TX); and DeFazio (D-OR). Note: There are so many House conferees because they are assigned to different sections of the bill."

     "Energy Bills Face Uncertain Prospects in Conference Committee," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-041, June 27, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-041, reported, " Congress may be on the verge of passing a broad-scope federal energy policy bill. The Senate and the House have each passed an energy bill denominated S 2012, but the House version is quite different from the Senate version. Whether the differences can be reconciled into a version of the bill that could be passed by both the Senate and the House is an open question. Each of these bills contains broad, national provisions (some of which may have tribal implications), and each bill also includes certain provisions that are specific to tribes. Tribes may want to weigh in with their congressional delegations regarding the next steps for this legislation.
Senate Bill Status. The Senate passed its energy policy bill, S 2012, the 'Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016,' on April 20, 2016, with bipartisan support. Title VI of this bill contains the text of the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2015, a bill introduced as S 209 in January 2015 by Senator Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA). See our General Memorandum 15-035 (May 11, 2015). Prior to its incorporation into S 2012, the Senate had already passed S 209 as a stand-alone bill. Cong. Rec. S8617 (Dec. 10, 2015).
House Bill Status. The House passed its energy policy bill, HR 8, the 'North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act,' on December 3, 2015, by a mostly party-line vote. On October 8, 2015, the House passed HR 538, the "Native American Energy Act," sponsored by Representative Young (R-AK), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. See our General Memorandum 15-068 (September 16, 2015). HR 8 as passed in December 2015 included a number of tribal-specific provisions, but it did not incorporate the text of HR 538.
On May 25, 2016, the House took up the Senate's bill, struck out all of the language and then inserted the text of HR 8, along with text from a number of other House bills. Cong. Rec. H3117-3198. This House-passed bill is denominated S 2012, although it is very different from the Senate-passed bill. It was during this process that Chairman Young's Native American Energy Act was included as title IV of division C of the House-passed version of S 2012.
Having taken this action, the House has started the process for the House and Senate to convene a conference committee to fashion a compromise bill that would be sent back to each chamber for a vote. Senate Democrats, however, are opposed to going to conference because, while S 2012 received bipartisan support, HR 8 is considered a partisan bill which could not be passed by the Senate and which includes provisions that the President has threatened to veto. Below we discuss some provisions of potential interest to tribes in each of these bills.
Senate Bill. As passed by the Senate, S 2012, is 798 pages, divided into ten titles. The text of the bill can be found at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2012/text/es?q=.... As noted earlier, the SCIA bill is incorporated as title VI. It would amend the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act ('the 2005 Act'), which was enacted as Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, PL 109-58, most of which is codified at 25 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3506. The 2005 Act authorized tribal energy resource agreements (TERAs), a new mechanism intended to allow for expedited development of energy resources on tribal lands by eliminating the requirement for the Secretary of the Interior (typically acting through the Bureau of Indian Affairs) to approve leases, rights-of-way, and business agreements. The TERA mechanism, however, has not yet been used, and section 6013 of the Senate-passed version of S 2012 would make changes intended to streamline the process for approval of such agreements.
Other provisions of the SCIA bill that are incorporated into title VI of the Senate-passed S 2012 include amendment of: the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. § 800(a)) to include Indian tribes in the preference that states and municipalities have for hydroelectric project licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 (25 U.S.C. § 3115a) to establish a Tribal Biomass Demonstration Project; and the Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976 (42 U.S.C. § 6863(d)) to change the process through which tribes could seek direct funding from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program.
Aside from title VI, several of the other titles of the Senate-passed S 2012 include specific references to tribes. A prominent example is section 1001, 'Greater energy efficiency in building codes,' in title I – Efficiency. This section would amend the statutory authorization for the DOE's Building Energy Codes Program to expressly include tribes in a manner comparable to states. 42 U.S.C. § 6833.   Originally authorized in 1992, this federal assistance program helps states and local governments periodically upgrade the energy efficiency standards in their building codes for residential and commercial buildings. This section also includes a mandate for the Secretary of Energy to help the organizations that develop model energy codes to develop model codes for adoption by tribes in accordance with tribal law.
Other provisions in the Senate-passed S 2012 that specifically refer to tribes are in title II – Infrastructure, (several sections in subtitle D, 'Electricity and Energy Storage'); title III – Supply (a few references, including section 3012, 'Geothermal exploration test projects'; section 3304, 'Resource assessment' for critical minerals; section 3601, "21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board"; section 3602, 'Energy workforce pilot grant program'); title IV – Accountability (section 4102, 'Smart energy and water efficiency pilot program'; section 4401, 'Federal land management'); title VII – Brownfields Reauthorization (section 7007, 'Small community technical assistance grants'); title X – Natural Resources (section 10253, 'National fish habitat conservation').
While nominally an energy policy bill, the Senate-passed version also includes numerous provisions that have little connection with energy policy. For example, section 5002 would amend the authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (54 U.S.C. § 200302) to make it permanent. Section 5003 would make a similar amendment in the authorization for the Historic Preservation Fund (54 U.S.C. § 303102).
House Bill. As passed by the House, S 2012 is 792 pages, divided into 4 'Divisions.' As noted earlier, the House struck the entire Senate bill and substituted its own text, including changing the short title of the bill to the "North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016." Division A, "North American Energy Security and Infrastructure," includes nine titles; Division B, "Resilient Federal Forests," also includes nine titles; Division C, "Natural Resources," includes 26 titles; and Division D, "Science," includes four titles (designated V, VI, VII, and XXXIII). The text of the House-passed version is available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2012/text/eah?q....
As noted earlier, Chairman Young's Native American Energy Act is included as title IV of division C of the House-passed version of S 2012. It is very different from Chairman Barrasso's bill which is incorporated into the Senate-passed version of S 2012. For example, it does not address TERAs. What it would do is: reform the process for appraisals of land or trust assets for transactions that require the approval of the Secretary of the Interior; make a major change in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as it applies to transactions relating to Indian trust or restricted land; establish limits on judicial review of any 'energy related action'; authorize a Tribal Biomass Demonstration Project; authorize the Navajo Nation to enter into certain categories of leases, including mineral extraction leases, without approval by the Secretary; declare that any activity conducted pursuant to a tribal resource management plan or integrated resource management plan approved by the Secretary of the Interior would be a sustainable management practice; and prohibit the Department of the Interior from regulating hydraulic fracturing on Indian trust or restricted lands, except with consent of the Indian beneficiary.
The change in the NEPA process that the bill would bring about is that, for any proposed federal action that requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), the distribution of the EIS for review and comment would be limited to members of the tribe, 'other individuals residing in the affected area, and State, federally recognized tribal, and local governments within the affected area.' The text providing for the inclusion of the listed governmental entities was added in a floor amendment. Cong. Rec. H6917 (Oct. 8, 2015).
Aside from Native American Energy Act , several other provisions of the House-passed S 2012 include specific references to tribes. In Division A, title I – Modernizing and Protecting Infrastructure – includes numerous provisions relating to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, some of which mention tribes, for example, section 1203, 'Hydropower licensing and process improvements,' which addresses environmental review. Also in Division A, section 3141, 'Greater energy efficiency in building codes,' would amend the statutory authorization for the Department of Energy's Building Energy Codes Program to expressly include tribes in a manner comparable to states. The text of this section is similar, but not identical, to section 1001 of the Senate-passed version of S 2012.
In Division B, title VII – Tribal Forestry Participation and Protection – section 701,  'Protection of tribal forest assets through use of stewardship end result contracting and other authorities,' would amend the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 (TFPA) (25 U.S.C. § 3115a) by establishing timeframes for the Secretary of Agriculture (with respect to the Forest Service) or the Interior (with respect to the Bureau of Land Management) to respond to a request from a tribe to enter into an agreement or contract to carry out a project to protect Indian forest land or rangeland (including a project to restore Federal land that borders on or is adjacent to Indian forest land or rangeland). Section 702, would amend the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (25 U.S.C. § 3104) to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture or Interior to treat federal forest land as Indian forest land in certain circumstances. Section 703 would authorize both Secretaries to carry out demonstration projects under the TFPA through contracts pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
As previously noted, in Division C – Natural Resources – title IV is the Native American Energy Act. A number of other provisions in Division C mention tribes, including section 902, 'Declaration of a major disaster for wildfire on Federal lands'; section 1032, 'Operational flexibility in times of drought'; section 1094, 'Bureau [of Reclamation] responsibilities' for water supply permitting; section 1105, "Project acceleration"; section 2051, 'Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Area Conservation Advisory Council'; and section 2111, 'Respect for treaties and rights.'
Division D – Science – does not include any references to tribes."

     CREDO, " Tell Congress: Stop the modern day Native American land grab," October 7, 2016, https://act.credoaction.com/sign/land_grab?t=2&akid=20014.1313914.sZsKSm, stated, "Utah Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz along with Sen. Mike Lee recently introduced a bill that would strip away protections for 100,000 acres of Ute tribal lands to allow for oil drilling and uranium mining. The bill would also prevent President Obama from designating 18 million acres of unprotected land at Bears Ears a national monument.
This legislation is a massive giveaway to the oil and mining industry and an attack on the indigenous people who have lived on this land for more than 11,000 years."
"This legislation is another attempt by Rep. Bishop to advance his campaign against the Antiquities Act, a law that allows the president to designate land a national monument. It’s responsible for creating many of our national treasures including the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado. Most recently, at the urging of tens of thousands of CREDO activists and our allies, President Obama designated more than 87,000 acres in northern Maine a national monument, despite pushback from Rep. Bishop and other extreme, anti-conservation Republicans.
This time, Rep. Bishop is going even further by attempting to rip away ancestral homelands from the Ute Indian tribe and hand them over to the fossil fuel industry. As Eric Ewert, professor of geography at Weber State University in Utah, put it, Rep. Bishop’s legislation is 'a fossil fuel development bonanza and public land giveaway that significantly rolls back existing protections for Utah’s wildlands. It was written behind closed doors with county commissioners and industry developers' and 'would be devastating for our public wildlands and Utah’s tourism economy.'

        "Tribal Incubator Bill to Foster Entrepreneurship, Close the Employment Gap in Native Communities," ICMN, July 19, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/tribal-incubator-bill-to-foster-entrepreneurship-close-the-employment-gap-in-native-communities/, reported, " A new bill to establish and fund business incubators in Indian country was introduced Thursday. The goal is to help start-up and cultivate Native-owned small businesses that will create more jobs and support their surrounding communities.
The Native American Business Incubators Program Act was introduced on Thursday by senators Jon Tester (D-Montana), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico)."
"Tribal business incubators will create a one-stop-shop for Native entrepreneurs so they can get assistance developing a business plan navigating federal, tribal and state regulations; and attracting outside investment. The incubators will also provide entrepreneurs a connected workspace and professional networking opportunities."
"Tester, Cantwell, and Udall’s bill will create an annual $5 million competitive grant initiative within the Interior Department to establish or maintain business incubators that serve Native American communities."
"To be considered for a grant, the applicant must serve one or more tribal communities, submit a three-year plan, provide a physical workspace, offer business skills training and education, and meet other specific requirements. Tribes, Tribal Colleges or Universities, and non-profit organizations are eligible to operate a business incubator. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will also provide oversight to business incubators and ensure they are delivering on their commitment to Native American entrepreneurs."

        "Montana’s U.S. Congressional Delegation Introduces Resolutions to Designate National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls," Cultural Survival, August 15, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/montanas-us-congressional-delegation-introduces-resolutions-designate-national-day-awareness, reported, "Montana U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Montana U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, have co-introduced resolutions in the U.S. Senate and House supporting the designation of May 5, 2017 as the "National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls." The resolutions honor the lives of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls whose cases are documented and undocumented in public records and the media, and demonstrate solidarity with families of victims who have suffered the tragedy of losing a loved one through violence.
The resolutions strengthen awareness and education efforts by federal, state and tribal governments as well as agencies, coalitions and nonprofit organizations to end violence against women, and emphasize that little data exists on the number of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women in the United States. Canada’s government has launched a national inquiry into First Nations women where nearly 1,200 Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or gone missing over three decades.
Toni Plummer-Alvernaz, executive director of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition, said:

"On behalf of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition and the Native women we serve, we acknowledge the Montana Delegation and their staff for recognizing and finally acknowledging the many missing and murdered Native women throughout all of Indian Country. These resolutions in some way validate the hearts and assist in resolving the grief of all the Native families and communities who have Native women that are missing or murdered."
What is next for S.Res.514 and H.Res.807?
On June 28, 2016, S.Res.514 was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. On July 5, 2016, H.Res.807 was introduced by Rep. Zinke (and 14 congressional sponsors) and was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. Committee chairs will consider the resolutions and determine whether they will move past the committees to the House and Senate, leading to roll call votes.
The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (DOJ-OVW), the Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition network, Native American nonprofits, advocates, activists and groups are all working to end violence on or near tribal reservations and communities, and in urban communities because of the alarmingly high rates of homicide, domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking, missing, and stalking among American Indian and Alaska Native women.  
First Nations Development Institute is one of several hundred Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (DOJ-OVW) technical assistance providers that work with grantees through 24 OVW grant programs in the U.S. The DOJ-OVW grant programs are designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic and sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking by increasing victim/survivor safety and offender accountability. Looking ahead, First Nations will be monitoring the progress of the resolutions to share with our supporters.
Call to Action
Click on http://www.niwrc.org/news/call-action-your-support-needed-create-national-day-awareness-missing-and-murdered-native-womento go to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) web page to help create a National Awareness Day for Mission and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
   NIWRC is dedicated to ending violence and increasing safety for American Indian and Alaska Native women and children. It offers resources addressing domestic violence and safety for American Indian and Alaska Native women. Resources are available online at: www.niwrc.org/resources
List of Resources
The National Institute of Justice published, in May 2016, findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2010) with American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) adult men and women about the prevalence of violence. The purpose of the report was to describe the lifetime and annual prevalence of violence experienced by AI/AN women and men. Data showed 55.5% of AI/AN women had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, and 43.25% of AI/AN men had experienced physical violence in their lifetime.
Statistical data and surveys like this are one step toward finding understanding about intimate partner violence and developing solutions, and they highlight the continued need for services with the goals of creating violence-free American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
To read the National Institute of Justice Research Report, go to: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249736.pdf .
Click on https://www.daines.senate.gov/news/press-releases/montana-congressional-delegation-introduces-resolution-to-designate-national-day-of-awareness-for-missing-and-murdered-native-women-and-girls to find press sources leading to the resolutions’ development. Also, news stories are available here:
Billings Gazette: http://billingsgazette.com/news/crime/montana-delegation-calls-for-awareness-after-crow-woman-s-death/article_709dac40-dc7c-5f59-80a9-1347cea9948c.html, KTVQ: http://www.ktvq.com/story/32330249/awareness-for-missing-and-murdered-native-women-and-girls-resolution-to-be-introduced-in-congress.
A Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women by Tjaden and Thoennes, U.S. DOJ 2010, can be accessed through https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf.
A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer: A Report to the President & Congress of the United States by the Indian Law and Order Commission can be found here .
For a list of DOJ-OVW Grant Programs to End Violence Against Women, click https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ovw/legacy/2014/05/28/ovw-grant-programs-one-pager.pdf.
A comprehensive list of Tribal Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalitions can be obtained at: http://www.firstnations.org/helpdesk/directory.
To learn more about resolutions or bills affecting American Indian or Alaska Natives, visit www.govtrack.us and use the search box to find information on "Native Americans."

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Federal Agency Developments

     "Department of Interior Secretarial Order Issued on Collaborative Partnerships with Tribes," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-071, October 21, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-071, reported, "On October 21, 2016 , Department of the Interior Secretary Jewell issued Secretarial Order No. 3342: Identifying Opportunities for Cooperative and Collaborative Partnerships with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes in the Management of Federal Lands and Resources. The Order is effective immediately and applies to the: Bureau of Land Management (BLM); National Park Service (NPS); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR); and "potentially other bureaus and offices." The press release is attached. The Order itself is available here: https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/uploads/so3342_partnerships.pdf
Purpose. The Order has two purposes. One is to: 'encourage cooperative management agreements and other collaborative partnerships between [DOI] resource managers and tribes that will further shared interests in the management of Federal lands and resources.' The other is to 'establish a process and provide institutional support to ensure that land and resource managers evaluate and develop opportunities to further establish partnerships that benefit tribes and Federal agencies.' The Department 'recognizes that tribes have special geographical, historical and cultural connections to Federal lands and waters, and that tribes have traditional ecological knowledge and practices regarding resources management that have been handed down through generations.' The Department acknowledges that a range of federal-tribal partnerships already exist and believes that they are a benefit to tribes, the federal government, and the general public at large.
Process. The named bureaus are directed to immediately begin identifying opportunities for federal-tribal partnerships. Bureau efforts shall include, but are not limited to:
• Identification of key personnel to explore such opportunities;
• Development of bureau-specific guidance for such partnerships; and
• Consultation at both the regional and unit-specific levels (at the request of tribes).
The Office of the Solicitor is directed to develop a working group to advise the bureaus on legal issues associated with exploring opportunities and entering into partnerships with tribes.
Scope. The scope of activities subject to this Order include, but are not limited to:
• Delivery of specific programs and services;
• Management of fish and wildlife resources;
• Identification, protection, preservation, and management of culturally significant sites, landscapes, and resources;
• Management of plant resources, including collection of plant material;
• Management and implementation of maintenance activities; and
• Management of information related to tribal, cultural, and/or educational materials.
Reporting Requirements. Within 75 days of the effective date of the Order, each bureau is required to provide the Deputy Secretary with a report summarizing their strategy for complying with the Order and their efforts to identify new opportunities for federal-tribal partnerships. Annually thereafter, each bureau is required to report to the Deputy Secretary on: completed arrangements between that bureau and tribes; arrangements still under consideration; arrangements which were declined (and the reason for the declination); and a summary of benefits that the public receives from the completed arrangements, including use of traditional ecological knowledge and tribal resources.
Legal Authority. The Order cites statutory authority specific to each of the named bureaus as support for agreements and partnerships. More generally, the Order is grounded on the government-to-government relationship with, and the federal trust responsibility to, the tribes.
Limitations and Effect of the Order. The Order makes clear that these federal-tribal partnerships must take place "within the framework of the Department's legal responsibilities and authorities" and that "bureaus should consult with the Office of the Solicitor for further guidance on the question of whether a particular program, service, function or activity [PSFA] is inherently Federal" and thus not eligible for inclusion in a partnership agreement. Implementation must occur "within the financial resources available to bureaus" and that "bureaus should have candid discussions with tribes regarding the need and availability of financial resources associated with any proposal." The Order "is intended to improve the internal management of the Department." In the event of "any inconsistency between the provisions of this Order and any Federal laws and regulations, the law and regulations will control." Finally, the Order does not address co-management, which the Department defines as "a situation where there is a specific legal basis that requires the delegation of some aspect of Federal decision making or that makes co-management otherwise legally necessary."
Impact on and Interaction with Self-Governance. As described in the Order, different types of federal-tribal resource management partnerships already exist. Some of these are self-governance agreements pursuant to Title IV of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). Under Title IV's self-governance program, tribes can propose to enter into agreements with any non-BIA agency within DOI to carry out PSFAs or portions thereof, provided that the tribe can identify a special geographic, historical or cultural significance to the PSFA. Each year, the Department publishes a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER describing the opportunities for tribes to enter into compacts with these bureaus and providing a list of the current agreements. Title IV makes entering into these agreements discretionary by the Secretary and very few agreements covering these programs exist. For example, this year's notice reports 10 Title IV agreements between tribes and non-BIA bureaus. (See our General Memorandum 16-031 of May 2, 2016)."

     "Tribal Consultation and Listening Sessions Scheduled for the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-052, August 8, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-052, reported, "On August 3, 2016, the Department of the Interior published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER clarifying the dates on which tribal consultation and listening sessions will be held on the recently enacted Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (Act), PL 114-178. The Act reaffirms the responsibility of the United States to Indian tribes; authorizes a demonstration project for tribes to voluntarily negotiate with the Secretary of the Interior to manage their own trust assets; creates the option for the Secretary to establish an Under Secretary for Indian Affairs; and sets up a process to terminate the Office of the Special Trustee. For a short summary, see our General Memorandum 16-040 of June 27, 2016. The consultations and listening sessions will be held in locations across the country and via teleconference from August 17, 2016 to September 19, 2016. Dates and locations are listed in the attached notice. Written comments will also be accepted and are due by September 30, 2016."

     The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management finalized rules, in November 2016, governing the development of wind and solar energy on BLM lands.
"Department of the Interior Finalizes Rule Providing a Foundation for the Future of BLM’s Renewable Energy Program
Rule codifies BLM’s Smart from the Start approach, establishes a robust framework for competitive leasing, and increases transparency and certainty," https://www.blm.gov/press-release/department-interior-finalizes-rule-providing-foundation-future-blm’s-renewable-energy, saying in a press release,
"Advancing the President’s Climate Action Plan to create jobs, cut carbon pollution and develop clean domestic energy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized its rule governing solar and wind energy development on public lands. The rule strengthens existing policies and creates a new leasing program that will support renewable energy development through competitive leasing processes and incentives to encourage development in suitable areas.
'This new rule not only provides a strong foundation for the future of energy development on America’s public lands, but is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast solar and wind energy resources across the country' said Secretary Jewell. 'Through a landscape-level approach, we are facilitating responsible renewable energy development in the right places, creating jobs and cutting carbon pollution for the benefit of all Americans.'
The rule formalizes key aspects of the BLM’s existing Smart from the Start approach to renewable energy development. Notably, the rule:

Supports development in areas with the highest generation potential and fewest resource conflicts through financial incentives, awarding leases through competitive processes and streamlining the leasing process Ensures transparency and predictability in rents and fees – for example, gives developers the option of selecting fixed rate adjustments instead of market-based adjustments; andUpdates the BLM’s current fee structure in response to market conditions, which will bring down near-term costs for solar projects.
The rule complements the Department’s landscape-scale planning efforts, including the Western Solar Plan, California’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, and Arizona’s Restoration Design Energy Project, which were designed to streamline development in areas with high generation potential, while protecting important environmental, cultural and recreational resources.
'By offering incentives for development in areas with fewer resource conflicts, the BLM’s rule provides a framework to support all of the landscape scale planning we’ve done to better plan for and manage wind and solar development,' said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider. 'The rule also refines the BLM’s approach to fair market value, to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return from these important resources.'
The President’s Climate Action Plan calls on Interior to permit 20,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2020. Since 2009, Interior has approved 60 utility-scale renewable energy projects on public lands, including 36 solar, 11 wind and 13 geothermal projects and associated transmission infrastructure that could support nearly 15,500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, or enough to power approximately 5.1 million homes.
'The BLM is incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the last eight years supporting wind and solar development,' added BLM Director Neil Kornze. 'We went from only a handful of approved projects in 2008 to a robust program with over 15,000 MW approved, six times the amount we had approved in the 25 prior years.'
The rule will support the full range of development activities anticipated by the BLM across the lands it manages. The rule’s competitive leasing provisions will help renewable energy development flourish on the 700,000 acres of public lands that have been identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The regulations will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register.
The rule refines the application review process and increases financial certainty by giving developers the option to lock in in fixed rate adjustments and providing for MW capacity fee phase-ins. The rule also allows the BLM to offer lands outside of DLAs competitively; however, the BLM anticipates that most projects in these areas will continue to use the application-by-application process.
Copies of the signed rule and a fact sheet explaining the key changes between the proposed and final rules are available on BLM’s website: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Energyandminerals_Renewable_Wind_solar_finalrule.pdf. The BLM intends to schedule additional information sessions as part of the implementation process for the rule."

       "BIA Issues Revised Fee-to-Trust Handbook," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-047, July 22, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-047, reported, "On June 28, 2016, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued a revised Fee-to-Trust Handbook (Revised Handbook). The Revised Handbook replaces a recently revised Fee-to-Trust Handbook issued on May 16, 2016. The Revised Handbook is intended to improve the land-into-trust process and to provide new guidance for the reservation proclamation process. The Revised Handbook is also intended for use by BIA staff responsible for reviewing trust applications, rather than for use in the preparation of trust applications. However, it provides useful insight to tribes regarding the BIA review process.
The Revised Handbook includes significant revisions to land title requirements in response to amendments to 25 C.F.R. § 151.13 published on May 16, 2016. Previously, § 151.13 required fee-to-trust applicants to furnish title evidence to the Department of the Interior that met the "Standards for the Preparation of Title Evidence in Land Acquisitions by the United States," issued by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ Title Standards). The amendments to § 151.13 eliminate this requirement and replace it with a requirement to now furnish a deed evidencing the applicant's ownership, or a written sales contract or written statement from the property transferor indicating that the applicant will have ownership. In addition, the applicant must furnish either: (1) a current title insurance commitment; or (2) a policy of title insurance issued at the time of the applicant's or current owner's acquisition of the interest and an abstract dating from the time the interest was acquired. The amendments to § 151.13, however, do not preclude applicants from otherwise having title confirmed pursuant to the DOJ Title Standards. The Revised Handbook provides updated procedures consistent with the amendments to § 151.13, including the elimination of the absolute requirement for reliance on the DOJ Title Standards.
The Revised Handbook contains two new sections regarding the reservation proclamation process, replacing previously issued BIA internal guidelines for submitting reservation proclamation requests. The first section provides guidance to the BIA on processing reservation proclamation requests for land which is already held in trust. The second section allows tribes to simultaneously submit both a fee-to-trust request and a reservation proclamation request for land which is not currently held in trust. However, the reservation proclamation will not be completed until the land is acquired in trust. Prior to this addition, tribes were not permitted to submit a reservation proclamation request until after the land was acquired in trust.
Further notable revisions to the Revised Handbook include: (1) the addition of language requiring the removal of liens, infirmities and encumbrances, which make title to the land unmarketable; (2) revisions to the requirements for a Certificate of Inspection and Possession, which may be prepared by either a BIA or other federal employee or a tribal employee or contractor; (3) the addition of language requiring the BIA to submit additional documents and information to the Solicitor's Office in conjunction with the BIA's written request for a preliminary title opinion; and (4) the addition of information describing the expiration of the 30 day appeal period applicable to certain parties for trust acquisition decisions made by BIA officials, as opposed to those made by the Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs.
The Revised Handbook is available here: http://www.indianaffairs.gov/cs/groups/xraca/documents/text/idc1-024504.pdf

     "Bureau of Indian Affairs Publishes Updated Model Indian Juvenile Code," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 16-070, October 28, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-070, reported, "On October 20, 2016, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published a final, updated Model Indian Juvenile Code (MIJC). The MIJC is an important resource for tribes that implement their own codes, yet it had not been updated since it was first published in 1988. The BIA states that the 2016 MIJC, which was developed in consultation with tribal governments, is intended to be comprehensive as well as flexible, encouraging alternatives to standard services and protecting the fundamental rights of children and their parents and guardians. A copy of the updated code is available at: http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/xojs/documents/document/idc2-047015.pdf.
The original MIJC was developed pursuant to PL 99-570, which required the Secretary of the Interior to develop a Model Indian Juvenile Code consistent with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. This code was additionally required to include provisions relating to cases involving Native youth arrested or detained for alcohol or drug offenses. Since the development of the 1988 MIJC, there have been significant changes in law and policy, including enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act, PL 111-211, and research demonstrating the ineffectiveness or harmful effects of punitive juvenile justice practices.
The updates to the 2016 MIJC mark a distinct shift in the model code's approach to juvenile justice, stating that 'researchers, youth advocates, and policy makers have … urged a move away from punitive models of juvenile justice, in favor of more restorative approaches that seek to maintain accountability and community safety while focusing on the rehabilitation of children who have committed delinquent acts.'
The 2016 MIJC focuses on the three areas of juvenile delinquency, truancy, and child-in-need services. Some key features of the 2016 MIJC are:
• A consistent and rigorous preference for alternatives to secure detention facilities, which are facilities that physically restrict movement and activities, using detention only as a last resort;
• Encouraging rehabilitative and restorative measures, including traditional and customary practices, in place of fines and detention;
• Distinguishing between delinquency and need for services;
• Encouraging efforts to coordinate services;
• Incorporating an ability to divert out of the formal process at each decision point;
• Distinguishing juvenile processes from criminal proceedings, including barring transfer to adult courts;
• Requiring children be represented by a juvenile advocate attorney in juvenile justice proceedings;
• Requiring all juvenile court staff and practitioners to be trained in and implement trauma-informed practices; and
• Establishing law enforcement, court, and detention procedures that protect children's fundamental rights.
The 2016 MIJC indicates that although it provides a detailed statutory framework, the expectation is that tribes will not adopt its provisions wholesale. Rather, the MIJC encourages tribes to adapt provisions to suit their unique needs and priorities as well as their own customs and traditions.
Significantly, the Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which paved the way for the initial Model Indian Juvenile Code, is up for reauthorization. On September 22, 2016, the House passed the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016, HR 5963. If enacted, the bill would implement a similar approach to juvenile justice reform as embraced by the 2016 MIJC and would also expand tribal access to funding under that Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a different version of a Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reauthorization bill, S 1169, in December 2015 but no further action has taken place on it. It is unlikely Congress will be able to finish work on juvenile justice legislation in the last few weeks of the current (114th) Congress, thus leaving the task to the next (115th) Congress."

     "Training Sessions on the Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings Rule," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-045, July 19, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-045, reported, "
Larry Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs announced in a July 13, 2016, letter to tribal leaders that the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be holding a series of training sessions regarding the recently announced Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations. We attach a copy of the letter and the training schedule.
On June 14, 2016, the Department of Interior published its Final Rule on Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings in the FEDERAL REGISTER. The rule addresses state court implementation of ICWA in Indian child welfare proceedings and the required state maintenance of ICWA records. This is a major development toward achieving consistent, uniform, and timely compliance with ICWA. The Final Rule takes effect December 12, 2016, providing time for state courts and agencies to make any necessary changes for implementation. (See our General Memorandum 16-038 of June 20, 2016).
The training will focus on "providing information on the new rule's requirements for State courts and agencies and the role of tribes in the procedural and substantive protections afforded it". There are 12 scheduled sessions – four of them are webinars and eight are on-site.
The lengthy Final Rule provides clarity regarding numerous matters including: identification of whether a child is Indian in the earliest states of proceedings; uniform requirements for notice to parents and tribes in involuntary proceedings; standards regarding denial to transfer cases to tribal court; expert qualified witness criteria; placement preferences for foster and adoptive care; rights of adult adoptees to information from the state; emergency proceedings; and clarity regarding what some courts have deemed the "existing Indian Family exception".
"Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings Final Rule; June 23 Webinar to be Held," Hobbs-Straus, General Memorandum 16-038, June 20, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-038, "Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings Final Rule; June 23 Webinar to be Held," Hobbs-Straus
On June 14, 2016, the Department of Interior published its Final Rule on Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Proceedings in the FEDERAL REGISTER. The rule addresses state court implementation of ICWA in Indian child welfare proceedings and the required state maintenance of ICWA records. This is a major development toward achieving consistent, uniform, and timely compliance with ICWA, a statute designed in the words of a House Committee report (95-1386) to 'protect the rights of the Indian child as an Indian and the rights of the Indian community and tribe in retaining its children in its society'. The Final Rule takes effect December 12, 2016, providing time for state courts and agencies to make any necessary changes for implementation.
The Department of Interior (DOI) published ICWA Guidelines in February 2015 but upon the recommendations from tribes and tribal organizations that binding regulations would be more effective, DOI drafted proposed regulations. More than 2,100 written comments were filed regarding the proposed regulations; oral comments were also provided in meetings, hearings, and consultation sessions. DOI now intends to issue updated Guidelines to conform to the Final Rule and will offer regional training sessions and webinars to state courts and agencies.
The lengthy Final Rule provides clarity regarding numerous matters including: identification of whether a child is Indian in the earliest states of proceedings; uniform requirements for notice to parents and tribes in involuntary proceedings; standards regarding denial to transfer cases to tribal court; expert qualified witness criteria; placement preferences for foster and adoptive care; rights of adult adoptees to information from the state; emergency proceedings; and clarity regarding what some courts have deemed the 'existing Indian Family exception'.
June 23 Webinar/ Explanatory Materials. The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) will hold a webinar on the new regulations on Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 12:30 p.m. Pacific/3:30 p.m. Eastern time. NICWA and the Native American Rights Fund have jointly prepared the following document explaining some of the key provisions of the Final Rule:
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA regs summary from NIWA NARF doc.pdf
Below is a copy of the Final Rule and several related documents prepared by DOI:
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA Final Rule June 14 2016.pdf
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA final rule FAQs June 2016.pdf
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA final rule Tribal Leader Letter June 2016.pdf
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA final rule State Governor letter June 2016.pdf
I:\NICWA\ICWA regs and guidance\ICWA regs Summary doc.pdf."

     The Department of the Interior placed almost 166 acres of land into trust, in December 2016, for the Potawatomi Indians in South Bend, IN, for a tribal village ( USA Today, December 2, 2016).

      Tanya H. Lee , "Interior Picks Two for Key BIA, BIE Leadership Jobs," November 2, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/interior-picks-two-for-key-bia-bie-leadership-jobs/, reported, " U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today named two highly experienced American Indian leaders to direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education respectively.
Weldon "Bruce" Loudermilk, an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, will take the helm at BIA, succeeding Michael S. Black, who has served as director since 2010.
Tony Dearman, Cherokee, will take over as director of the BIE, replacing Ann Marie Bledsoe, who has served as interim director since Monty Roessell was removed from the position in March following allegations that he had misused his authority."

     "Department of Justice to Expand Tribal Access Program to National Crime Information," General Memorandum 16-065, October 24, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-065, reported, " The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that they are expanding the opportunity for tribes to participate in the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP). This program provides the training and tools necessary for tribal law enforcement access to national crime information data bases, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), for both law enforcement and certain civil purposes. Tribes who have either an Adam Walsh Act Sex Offender Registry or a tribal law enforcement agency may apply. A letter or resolution from the tribe's governing body must be submitted to TAP.APP@usdoj.gov by December 2, 2016. The attached DOJ news release details what must be included in the letter or resolution.
The lack of tribal access to federal criminal information databases has been a long-standing problem for Indian tribes and their law enforcement agencies. The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires the U.S. Attorney General to permit tribal and BIA law enforcement agencies to access, enter information into, and obtain information from, federal criminal information databases. It also requires that in order to access these databases, tribal law enforcement officials must meet "applicable federal or state requirements".
The TAP expansion is phase two of this program. We reported on the initial phase in our General Memorandum 15-062 of August 25, 2015. DOJ chose nine tribes to participate in the initial phase (termed the User Feedback Phase) and provided specialized training, technical assistance and state-of-the-art biometric/biographic computer work stations. The current DOJ solicitation does not indicate a limit on the number of tribes who might participate in this next phase of the program. Examples of law enforcement uses include documenting tribal arrests and tribal court dispositions, access to investigative records and officer safety-related information. Civil purposes include background investigations of persons having contact or control over Indian children; responding to allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of children; background investigations on public housing; entering orders of protection; and registering sex offenders. During the first phase, DOJ indicates that tribal agencies have used TAP for numerous investigative uses; fingerprint checks; preventing inappropriate gun transfers; entering orders of protection; and registering sex offenders.
Under TAP the Department of Justice:
• Assumes responsibility for granting network access, extending to tribes the model used by federal agencies;
• Ensures security and other training, onboarding/vetting (agency and individual users), testing and auditing;
• Provides integrated workstations which feature a computer, palm/fingerprint scanner, camera, flatbed scanner and printer; and
• Provides online and in-person training and assists tribes in evaluating needs relative to accessing national crime information.
The schedule for this expanded phase of TAP is:
• Expression of Interest Submission October 24-December 2, 2016
• Notification of Selection December 16, 2016
• Onboarding and Vetting January 9-May 31, 2017
• Deployment May 9-September 29, 2017
The DOJ website has a great deal of information on TAP which may be accessed here:
"Victims of Crime Act Victims Assistance Program Final Rule; Appropriations Committees Recommend Crime Victims Fund Tribal Allocation," Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 16-053, August 19, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-053, reported, "On July 8, 2016 , the Department of Justice (DOJ) published in the FEDERAL REGISTER a Final Rule regarding the implementation of the formula grant program authorized by the Victims of Crime Act, known as the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). The Final Rule updates the previously issued Guidelines for the program. The CVF, which is funded via federal criminal fines, penalties and assessments, provides direct funding to states and to territories, but unfortunately not to tribes. Of significance is that the pending FY 2017 House and Senate Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bills each include a 5 percent tribal allocation from the CVF, although that is not a guarantee that it will remain in a final bill. The National Congress of American Indians and others have worked for a number of years for direct tribal funding from the Crime Victims Fund.
The Final Rule is available here:
The Appropriations Committees place a cap on how much of the accumulated CVF can be allocated annually. Congress has significantly increased the amount of funds available for distribution from the CVF in each of the past 3 fiscal years. In FY 2016 approximately $3 billion was allocated, with $2.6 billion of that available for the DOJ Office for Victims of Crime. DOJ has confirmed that very little of the funds are passed through from states to programs serving tribal victims.
The CVF provides resources for an array of services to help victims and victim service providers and it does contain one small tribal allocation. The first $20 million of the CVF is to be set-aside to address child abuse prevention and treatment. Fifteen percent of that amount ($3 million) is to be allocated for programs to address child abuse in Indian Country and these funds are distributed as part of the DOJ Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation for competitive grants. (The earlier Guidance had specified an allocation of 15 percent of the first $10 million). The remaining portion is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution to states for child abuse prevention and treatment.
Match Waiver for Projects in Indian Country . The Final Rule contains a new waiver with regard to sub-recipients, waiving the 20 percent cash or in-kind required match for "federally-recognized American Indian or Alaska Native tribes, or projects that operate on tribal lands." DOJ states:
The elimination of match for American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes and projects on tribal lands will permit victim service organization in these communities, many of which do not have the resources to provide matching funds, the ability to more easily seek VOCA funding for victim services. This will benefit victims in these communities, many of whom are underserved. This change is unlikely to impose new costs on States, as there is no requirement that the administering agencies fund American Indian or Alaskan Native tribes or organizations at a particular level, and the amount of funding allocated to these organizations historically is a very small percentage of overall VOCA funding.
Appropriations. As noted above, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee-approved FY 2017 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bills contain a 5 percent tribal allocation from the Crime Victims Fund. That would amount to approximately $130-$145 million for tribes. We expect that Congress will enact a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund federal agencies for at least the first few months of FY 2017 which begins October 1, 2016. A CR generally funds programs at their prior year funding level and conditions. Should Congress see its way clear to pass individual FY 2017 appropriations bills or combine them into an omnibus bill, up for discussion would be the issue of a tribal CVF allocation. Of concern is that the Judiciary Committees, which have jurisdiction over the Victims of Crime Act, have expressed concern over the appropriations bills' proposals for a tribal allocation of CFV funds."

        "United States Sentencing Commission Tribal Issues Advisory Group," Hobbs Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 16-055, August 30, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-055, reported, "The United States Sentencing Commission (Commission) is soliciting applications for membership in a standing Tribal Issues Advisory Group (Advisory Group). The Commission has adopted a charter for the Advisory Group and will be accepting applications until October 24, 2016. The solicitation was in the August 24, 2016 FEDERAL REGISTER which may be found here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-08-24/pdf/2016-20247.pdf
An ad hoc Tribal Issues Advisory Group issued a report in June 2016 concerning sentencing disparities for Indian criminal defendants. The standing Advisory Group will continue work on sentencing and related matters.
The Advisory Group will have up to nine members, and the positions for which the Commission is soliciting applications are: one federal judge, one tribal court judge, and up to four at-large members. Other members will be two federal agency and one public defender/community defender organization representatives."

     "EPA Publishes Two Rulemaking Documents on Implementing the Clean Water Act on Indian Reservations," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 16-068, October 26, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-068, reported, " The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published two rulemaking documents to address gaps in the implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on Indian reservations. On September 26, 2016 , EPA published a final rule on treatment of Indian tribes in a similar manner as states (TAS) for the purpose of identifying and restoring impaired waters, i.e., waters that are not in compliance with water quality standards (WQS). 81 Fed. Reg. 65901; https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-09-26/pdf/2016-22882.pdf. On September 29, EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the proposed establishment of federal baseline WQS for Indian reservation waters for which WQS have not yet been adopted. 81 Fed. Reg. 66900; https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-09-29/pdf/2016-23432.pdf. The deadline for filing comments on the ANPRM is December 28, 2016.
APRM: Federal Baseline Water Quality Standards (WQS). The CWA is a multi-faceted regulatory statute that establishes a federalist framework for achieving the objective of restoring and maintaining "the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." Within this federalist framework, EPA is charged with primary responsibility for certain CWA programs, and the states are charged with primary responsibility for other programs. Several programs for which EPA has the lead can be delegated to states, and, in certain circumstances, EPA can take over programs for which states have the lead. The adoption of WQS is assigned to the states, subject to approval by EPA to ensure that the state's WQS meet the requirements of the CWA. EPA approval renders a state's WQS enforceable through other CWA programs. If EPA does not approve a state's WQS, EPA may promulgate federal WQS for waters of that state. However, there are no generally applicable federal WQS.
The role of states in adopting WQS was established by the 1972 amendments to the CWA. The 1987 amendments added section 518, which authorizes EPA to treat Indian tribes as states (TAS). 33 U.S.C. § 1377. (In implementing TAS for the CWA and other regulatory statutes, EPA's practice is to use wording such as "treatment in a similar manner as states" rather than "treatment as states.") EPA promulgated a final rule implementing TAS for the WQS program in 1991, in which EPA wrote that states generally lack authority to adopt WQS for waters within Indian reservations. There are now 53 tribes that have been authorized by EPA to administer the WQS program; 42 of these tribes have adopted WQS that have been approved by EPA. To qualify for TAS under CWA section 518, a tribe must have a reservation (which includes land held in trust for a tribe even if not formally designated a reservation). More than 300 tribes have reservations. Thus, at present on more than 250 reservations, there are no WQS.
The lack of WQS for so many reservations is a major gap in the implementation of the CWA. The ANPRM is intended to fill this gap through the promulgation of federal "baseline" WQS. As discussed in the ANPRM, this is not a new idea. The EPA Administrator signed a proposed rule to do this on January 18, 2001, but it was never published in the FEDERAL REGISTER.
While the ANPRM does not include any proposed regulatory language, it does include an explanation of the role of WQS in the CWA. Briefly, WQS consist of: "designated uses" – the policy decision on what uses a water body should support; "water quality criteria" – numeric and/or narrative parameters for protecting each designated use; and "antidegradation" requirements to prevent water quality from getting worse. The ANPRM also discusses the issues that would need to be addressed in federal "baseline" WQS.
The promulgation of federal "baseline" WQS would not preclude tribes from working their way through the TAS process and adopting their own WQS for approval by EPA. Earlier this year, EPA acted to streamline the TAS process by reinterpreting CWA section 518 as a delegation of authority from Congress to tribes, eliminating the need for a tribe to demonstrate inherent authority to regulate sources of water pollution on non-trust land. 81 Fed. Reg. 30183; https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-16/pdf/2016-11511.pdf. See our General Memorandum 16-033 (May 18, 2016). The deadline for filing comments is December 28, 2016.
Final Rule: The Total Maximum Daily Loads Program for Impaired Waters. Impaired waters are those that do not meet applicable WQS. CWA section 303(d) requires each state to develop a list of impaired waters and, for each such water body, establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL). The TMDL program is a primary mechanism in the CWA for restoring the quality of impaired waters in order to support designated uses. As explained by EPA, a TMDL is a planning document to address impaired waters by calculating the amount of pollutants that a water body can receive on a daily basis and still meet the applicable WQS; the allowable pollution is then allocated among the various point sources and nonpoint sources.
The final rule establishes the process through which tribes can become authorized to be treated like states for the TMDL program. A prerequisite for establishing a TMDL is the existence of approved WQS for the waters within the tribe's reservation. If a tribe has not yet become authorized for TAS for the WQS program, the final rule for the TMDL program provides that a tribe may apply for TAS for both programs at the same time.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the advance notice of proposed rulemaking on federal baseline water quality standards, the final rule on total maximum daily load, or other issues regarding the Clean Water Act in Indian Country."

       The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Region 8 was consulting, in August 2016, with tribes (including the Ute Mountain and Southern Utes) in the area of the Bonita Peak Mining District about the Bonita Peak Mining District Priority List concerning Super Fund clean up [which as of fall 2016 included the Gold King Mine spill of 2015]. The tribes were being consulted particularly about cultural sites that might be effected, and about health issues related to toxic sites and their clean up (Sacha Smith, "EPA seeks assistance from Ute Tribes," Southern Ute Drum, August 5, 2016).

       "HHS Proposed Rule on Grants Would Affect ISDEAA; Comments Requested by August 12," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-50, August 1, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-50, reported, "On July 13, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking to, among other things, make the HHS regulations governing audits and cost principles for HHS grants at 45 C.F.R. Part 75, Subparts E and F, apply to Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (ISDEAA) contracts and compacts. In addition, the proposed rulemaking would add language to Part 75 'clarifying' the application of § 450j-1(f) of the ISDEAA to cost disallowances. This proposed rulemaking would add new regulatory requirements to ISDEAA contracting and compacting contrary to the ISDEAA and its implementing regulations. Comments on the proposed rule are due by 5:00pm on August 12, 2016.
As background we note that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) adopted Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements to supersede and streamline the OMB Circulars. These OMB Uniform Requirements were published as "final guidance" to federal agencies on December 26, 2013 (78 Federal Register 78590). This OMB "guidance" is not a regulation. However, federal agencies may adopt the OMB guidance as agency regulations with modifications to meet specific agency needs. The Secretary of HHS adopted the OMB Uniform Requirements, with specific HHS modifications, as a regulation governing HHS grant awards codified at 45 C.F.R. Part 75. For additional information on the Uniform Administrative Requirements, please see our General Memoranda 15-085 of December 11, 2015 and 14-004 of January 13, 2014.
The proposed rulemaking would amend § 75.102 of Part 75 to make Subparts E and F of Part 75 governing audits and cost principles applicable to ISDEAA contracts, compacts, and funding agreements, including § 75.505 Sanctions enforceable through remedies in § 75.371. Section 75.102 would also be amended to clarify what 'cost disallowances' are subject to the one year restriction on remedies in § 450j-1(f) of the ISDEAA.
Section 107 of the ISDEAA, 25 U.S.C. § 450k, provides that the Secretaries of HHS and Interior may not promulgate any regulation relating to self-determination contracts except as authorized in that section. Regulations must be negotiated with tribes and tribal organizations under negotiated rulemaking procedures and adopted as a single set of regulations in title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Secretaries of HHS and Interior adopted joint regulations governing self-determination contracting codified at 25 C.F.R. Part 900.
This joint regulation at § 900.40(b) provides for evaluation of tribal management systems by an independent auditor through the single agency audit report that is required by § 450c(f) of the ISDEAA and OMB Circular A-128. Section 900.45(e) provides that the tribal financial system shall be sufficient to determine the reasonableness, allowability, and allocability of self-determination contract costs based upon the terms of the self-determination contract and applicable OMB Circulars. However, § 900.37 provides that: 'The only provisions of OMB Circulars and the only provisions of the 'common rule' that apply to self-determination contracts are the provisions adopted in these regulations, those expressly required or codified in the Act, and those negotiated and agreed to in a self-determination contract.'
With respect to self-governance, § 506(c) of the ISDEAA, 25 U.S.C. § 458aaa-5(c), governs audits and cost principles applicable to self-governance compacts and funding agreements. Subsection 506(c)(1) requires single agency audit reports. Subsection 506(c)(2) requires an Indian tribe to apply cost principles under the applicable Office of Management and Budget circular, except as modified by section 450j-1, other provisions of law, or by any exemptions granted by the Office of Management and Budget. However, 'No other audit or accounting standards shall be required by the Secretary.'
Section 517 of the ISDEAA, 25 U.S.C. § 458aaa-16, authorizes the Secretary to issue regulations under negotiated rulemaking procedures but only within a certain time period. The Secretary (HHS) promulgated regulations codified at 42 C.F.R. Part 137 prior to the expiration of the Secretary’s rulemaking authority. Sections 137.165 – 137.173 of those regulations provide for single agency audits and application of OMB Circulars consistent with § 506(c). Proposing to make ISDEAA contracts, compacts, and funding agreements subject to the HHS grant regulations, and defining the scope of § 450j-1(f) by adding a provision to the HHS grant regulations exceeds the Secretary’s rulemaking authority that is restricted by the ISDEAA.
Publishing this proposed rulemaking affecting tribes and tribal organizations without adequate consultation violates the President's Executive Order and Department policies requiring consultation. Executive Order 13175 requires federal agencies to consult with tribal officials in the development of "Federal policies that have tribal implications." The term "policies that have tribal implications" includes regulations that have a substantial effect on one or more Indian tribes. The Executive Order requires consultation prior to publishing a proposed rule affecting tribes and tribal organizations. Consultation cannot be equated with the opportunity to comment afforded to the general public by the Administrative Procedure Act at 5 U.S.C. § 553.
We note that the proposed rulemaking also includes other proposed changes to the HHS's grant rules that do not target ISDEAA contracts, compacts, and funding agreements. These are:
• Clarified language regarding the applicability of certain payment provisions to states under 45 CFR Part 75, such as the necessity that states expend refunds and rebates before drawing down additional grant funds.
• Codification of the permissive authority of HHS awarding agencies to require public access to manuscripts, publications, and data produced under an award, consistent with applicable law.
• Codification of HHS's policy that any payments or assessments imposed under 26 U.S.C. 5000A(b) as a result of any failure to maintain minimum essential coverage as required by 26 U.S.C. 5000A(a) are not allowable costs under any grant. HHS also proposes to codify this provision in the context of payments for failure to offer health coverage to employees and seeks comments from the public on this issue.
• Codification of HHS's policy that training grants be restricted to a maximum eight percent indirect cost rate. The proposed rule extends this limitation to foreign organizations and foreign public entities.
• Codification of HHS's non-discrimination policy in the service grants context.
• Codification of HHS's interpretation of the Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), which ensures that same-sex spouses, marriages, and households are treated the same as their opposite-sex equivalents in terms of determining beneficiary eligibility or participation in grant-related activities.
The July 13 FEDERAL REGISTER notice is available here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-07-13/pdf/2016-15014.pdf
Comments on the proposed rule should refer to file code 0991-AC06, and may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov."

     "EPA Publishes Proposed Rule with Tribal Implications for the Clean Energy Incentive Program; Comments Requested," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-049, July 22, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-049, reported, "On June 30, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule on the design details for the Clean Energy Incentive Program ( CEIP). 81 Fed. Reg. 42940. The CEIP is an optional component of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama Administration's initiative to use EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to address a major cause of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) that burn fossil fuels. The CEIP will provide incentives for investments in renewable energy (RE) and demand-side energy efficiency (EE) prior to 2022, the year when the regulatory requirements of the CPP are scheduled to take effect. Although the CEIP is a short-term program to support investments in RE and EE, while it is in effect, it will be a major source of financial assistance. The final design of the CEIP is important because it will determine whether or not tribes will be able to fully benefit from these opportunities. The deadline for filing comments has been extended to September 2, 2016.
Initial Comments from Tribes. In the preamble of the proposed rule, EPA notes that many tribes have expressed interest in participating in the CEIP, and EPA requests comments on possible approaches to enable RE and EE projects in Indian Country to participate in the CEIP. EPA also acknowledges that "several tribes have expressed concern" that EPA’s proposed approach to tribal participation in the CEIP by requiring tribes to apply through state programs "would infringe upon their sovereign rights." 81 Fed. Reg. 42967. EPA responded that it "does not agree" that there would be "an infringement on tribal sovereignty" because the CEIP does not "impose any legal obligations on tribes … or authorize the states to impose such obligations." Notwithstanding the lack of legal obligations, EPA's proposed approach does make tribes subordinate to the states in making some of the basic policy decisions about the CEIP. One such policy decision (as discussed below) is whether the CEIP will be available at all. Arguably, this can be seen as an infringement on the right of tribal self-government.
Overview of the Clean Power Plan. The CPP is a complex regulatory program which is intended to accelerate the transition in our national electric power grid toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, especially coal. As such, the CPP differs from typical pollution control regulatory programs in that it not only seeks to reduce pollution from regulated sources, it is also intended to help drive investments in alternatives to those regulated sources. EPA established the CPP through a final rule captioned "Carbon Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units." 80 Fed. Reg. 64661 (October 23, 2015). See our General Memorandum 16-007 (January 14, 2016). Like other Clean Air Act regulatory programs, the CPP is designed to be implemented through "cooperative federalism," with the basic framework set out in EPA regulations and the details in plans to be adopted by the states.
In developing the CPP, EPA set goals for CO2 emission reductions for each of the states in which there are affected EGUs. While each of these states is supposed to adopt a plan to achieve its emission reduction goal by 2030, EPA provides a great deal of flexibility in developing plans: the owners and operators of EGUs will have legal obligations to achieve compliance with the applicable emission reduction goals, which can be done by some combination of operating their EGUs less and buying credits from RE projects. The CPP anticipates the development of a market for trading credits. If a state decides not to adopt a plan, or adopts a plan that does not meet with EPA’s approval, EPA will promulgate a federal plan for that state. In conjunction with promulgating the Emission Guidelines, EPA also published a proposed rule to set out requirements for federal plans. 80 Fed. Reg. 64965 (Oct. 23, 2015). The proposed rule for federal plans also included proposed model rules for trading credits.
Clean Energy Incentive Program. The regulatory requirements of the CPP are scheduled to take effect in 2022. The objective of the CEIP is to provide incentives for early investments – the two years prior to 2022 – in renewable energy (RE) projects (wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower) and in projects that serve low-income communities (demand-side EE and solar electric). Projects that are determined eligible (and which deliver measurable electric power or savings) will be awarded credits by the state, and will also be awarded matching credits by EPA. The EPA will award these matching credits on a one-for-one basis for RE projects and on a two-for-one basis for low-income community projects. The CEIP project sponsor can then sell the credits to an affected EGU, which can use them for compliance with the CPP.
CEIP as an Optional Program. States are not required to include the CEIP in their state plans. In the CEIP proposed rule, EPA says that, if it promulgates a full federal plan for a state, it will include the CEIP component. However, if a state does adopt a plan that meets with EPA approval but the state decides not to include the optional CEIP component, EPA would not promulgate a partial federal plan to make the CEIP available in such a state. Rather, there would be no CEIP in that state. Thus, the basic policy decision of whether to have the CEIP at all would be up to the state; tribes in such a state would have no right to decide for themselves.
The CEIP is optional as well for the three tribes that have affected EGUs within their reservations. We note that the EPA Fact Sheet on the proposed CEIP rule (available at https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/fact-sheet-clean-energy-incentive-pro...) mentions tribes at many points, which might create the impression that the CEIP is also an option for tribes whose reservations do not have EGUs. However, all of the references in the Fact Sheet are to the three tribes with affected EGUs. In the proposed rule, the discussion of participation by tribes without affected EGUs is limited to two columns of text. 81 Fed. Reg. 42967-68.
Definition of "Low-Income Community". There are other points at which EPA's proposed rule for the CEIP subordinates tribes to states in the implementation of the program. One such point is the definition of "low-income community." As proposed, the CEIP would provide incentives for demand-side EE and solar electric projects serving low-income communities, and these projects would receive matching credits on a two-for-one basis. The matter of how to define "low-income community" is left to the states, which can use existing definitions from local, state, or federal law. 81 Fed. Reg. 42961. Many reservation communities are "low-income" by most definitions, but tribes may want input into the definition used for the CEIP, since it is a key term in qualifying for the two-for-one match.
Eligibility of Demand-Side Energy Efficiency Projects. Another point at which tribal interests are subordinated to the states is that EPA proposes to let the states determine the kinds of demand-side EE projects that will be eligible for the CEIP. Some suggestions mentioned by EPA include "projects for residences and non-profit commercial buildings, or transmission and distribution projects that reduce electricity use on the customer side of the meter." 81 Fed. Reg. 42949. A state's priorities may differ from those that would be set by tribes, but to be eligible, projects in Indian Country would have to fit the state's priorities. Moreover, under the CPP, demand-side EE projects that are eligible under state plans are included in the term "state measures," a term that is defined as "measures that are adopted, implemented, and enforced as a matter of State law." 80 Fed. Reg. at 64961 (40 C.F.R. § 60.5880). In submitting its plan to EPA, each state must demonstrate that it has legal authority to implement and enforce each component of the state plan, including any state measures. 80 Fed. Reg. at 64949 (40 C.F.R. § 60.5745). Requiring demand-side EE projects in Indian Country to be implemented and enforced through the state's authority subordinates tribal authority to that of the states and, as such, can be seen as an infringement on the right of tribal self-government.
A Federal Plan for Indian Country? As noted earlier, EPA has requested comments on possible approaches to enable RE and EE projects in Indian Country to participate in the CEIP. The CAA authorizes EPA to treat Indian tribes like states and, where such treatment is "inappropriate or administratively infeasible," also authorizes EPA to implement the CAA in Indian Country directly. One approach to ensure that the CEIP is available in Indian Country would be for EPA to promulgate a federal plan for Indian Country. Presumably, such a federal plan could preserve the option for CEIP-eligible projects to participate in state plans where that would be advantageous.
Alaska and Hawaii. Tribes in Alaska may also want to comment on this proposed rule. In the CPP, EPA did not set emission guidelines for Alaska or Hawaii, because those states are not connected to the national grid. EPA has invited comments on how to make the CEIP available in those states, if they choose to participate. 81 Fed. Reg. 42968. The specific point on which EPA seeks comments is how to allocate a share of credits for those states.
Additional Documents
• The proposed rule is available at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-06-30/pdf/2016-15000.pdf.
• Further information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-energy-incentive-program."

        "Tribes are Eligible for Expected $50 Million in Grants and Loan Guarantees Under Rural Energy for America Program; Department of Agriculture is Soliciting Applications," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-064, October 20, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-064, reported,
On October 18, 2016 , the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER soliciting applications for the $50 million that they expect will be appropriated in FY 2017 for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The REAP is composed of two different grant and loan guarantee programs designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption, and to help meet the Nation's critical energy needs. Tribes are among the eligible entities and in an effort to ensure that small projects have a fair opportunity to compete for funding, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service will set aside 20 percent of FY 2017 funds for grants of $20,000 or less.
Applications for REAP grants and loans are accepted on a rolling basis but each program has a different deadline by which applications must be received in order to be considered for the current fiscal year's funds. Please see the notice for further information on application deadlines and instructions. A copy of the solicitation may be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/10/18/2016-25163/notice-o...
REAP: Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance. This program provides grants, guaranteed loans, or the option to combine a grant and guaranteed loan to agricultural producers and to rural small businesses: to purchase and install renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements to their operations. Eligible renewable energy systems include: wind, solar, renewable biomass, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these resources. For renewable energy system grants, the minimum grant is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000. For energy efficiency improvement grants, the minimum grant is $1,500 and the maximum is $250,000. For loan guarantees under either category, the minimum guaranteed amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $25 million. Guaranteed loans and combined grants and guaranteed loans cannot exceed 75 percent of eligible project costs. Also, any federal grant portion may not to exceed 25 percent of total eligible project costs, whether the grant is part of a grant and loan combination or is for a grant only.
REAP: Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance. This program provides grants to tribal, state and local governments and to institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; and public power entities so that they can establish programs to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency of their operations as well as the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations. The maximum grant amount is $100,000. Grantees are required to charge energy audit recipients 25 percent of the cost of the energy audit."

     "USDA Issues Report "Feasibility of Tribal Administration of Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs," Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 16-054, August 25, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-054, reported, " The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a report in July 2016 entitled 'Feasibility of Tribal Administration of Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs' (Report). This report was required by section 4004 of the 2014 Farm Bill (PL 113-79).
The Farm Bill required the Secretary of Agriculture to "conduct a study to determine the feasibility of tribal administration of Federal food assistance programs, services, functions, and activities (or portions thereof), in lieu of State agencies or other administering entities." The Secretary was directed to file a report that:

contains a list of programs, services, functions, and activities with respect to which it would be feasible to be administered by a tribal organization;a description of whether that administration would necessitate a statutory or regulatory change; andsuch other issues that may be determined by the Secretary and developed through and pursuant to consultation with tribes.
The Report is a good resource for detailed information on various FNS nutrition assistance program statutory requirements, regulations, and division of duties among federal, state, and local entities. However, it does not include, as instructed in the Farm Bill, recommendations on specific statutory or other changes that might be needed to facilitate increased tribal administration of nutrition assistance programs. The Report's main recommendation for a next step is that there be further study of the feasibility of tribal administration of federal nutrition programs by having an 'in-depth collaborative audit with a select number of Tribes identified through this study to be both interested in and ready to administer one or more nutrition programs.' The Report notes limitations to its research, including an abbreviated timeline in order to meet the congressional deadline and the limited number of tribes choosing to participate in the research. One hundred sixteen tribes responded to a written survey, and researchers made 13 site visits. Including in-person consultations, there were 60 participant tribes who represented a broad size range.
Tribal recommendations during the process included: FNS develop a model to help tribes obtain competitive pricing for electronic benefit services (EBT) for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). FNS noted that EBT is generally negotiated between EBT contractors and state agencies although FNS has organized consortia of state agencies to negotiate lower prices for EBT services. Amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to include federal nutrition assistance programs. FNS consider the development of tribal administrative regions corresponding to the national distribution of tribes.
The communications with tribal representatives showed a strong interest by tribes in administration of nutrition assistance programs, both in terms of service to members and the exercise of sovereignty. Tribes, especially among smaller tribes, had concerns regarding cost, staffing, and physical infrastructure issues.
According to the Report, of the 15 FNS nutrition assistance programs:34 tribes/tribal organizations administer the WIC program100 tribes, tribal organizations administer the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations2 tribes administer the Commodity Supplemental Food Program6 tribes administer the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program8 tribes administer the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program
1 tribe (Port Gamble S'Klallam) received a waiver to the SNAP requirement for an Office of Personnel Management-approved merit personnel system and thus is able to perform eligibility and certification functions
There are additional instances where a tribe may administer a portion of a program.
However , a major impediment to tribal administration of SNAP is the requirement that a tribe must find that the state agency has failed to administer the program properly, and FNS must also find the tribe capable of administering SNAP as a state agency.
A two-page summary of the Report is available here:
A copy of the entire Report, which includes an Executive Summary, is available here:

     "OPM issues proposed rule governing access to Federal Employee Health Benefits for tribal employers and employees," Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 16-056, August 31, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-056, reported, " The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a proposed rule in the FEDERAL REGISTER today, August 31, 2016, governing access to Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) for tribal employers and employees under section 409 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), as amended by section 10221 of the Affordable Care Act. According to the preamble, the proposed rule is intended to codify existing guidance and to adopt the FEHB program for Federal employees with "slight variations to meet the needs of the tribal population." The FEDERAL REGISTER notice may be found here:
Comments are due October 31, 2016.
The proposed regulations would incorporate statutory eligibility provisions that extend the right to offer FEHB coverage to any tribe, tribal organization, or urban Indian organization carrying out at least one program under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) or Title V of the IHCIA. See 25 U.S.C. § 1647b. However, under the proposed regulations, as long as a tribal employer purchases FEHB coverage for at least one "billing unit" that carries out at least one program under the ISDEAA or IHCIA, that tribal employer would also be entitled to purchase FEHB coverage for other billing units regardless of whether those other billing units carry out any programs under the ISDEAA or IHCIA. Tribal employers that elect to purchase FEHB coverage for their tribal employees must contribute a share of the premium that is at least equivalent to what the Federal Government contributes for Federal employees, but would be permitted to vary their contribution amount by enrollment type or by billing unit.
Consistent with existing FEHB and federal tax standards, the proposed regulations would define the term "tribal employee" to mean a common law employee of a tribal employer. Certain tribal employees, such as employees whose employment is limited to one year or less and employees expected to work less than 6 months in one year, would be excluded. Eligible tribal employees would have the same plan options and be entitled to select self only, self plus one, or self and family enrollment to the same extent as Federal employees in the same geographic area.
In order to purchase FEHB coverage, the proposed regulations would require tribal employers to enter into an agreement with OPM confirming the tribal employer’s eligibility and setting out various conditions of participation. These conditions include, among several others: agreement by the tribal employer not to offer alternate tribal employer-sponsored health insurance coverage to FEHB-eligible employees concurrently with FEHB; acknowledgement that the tribal employer will be subject to Federal audit with respect to FEHB participation; an agreement to establish or identify an independent dispute resolution panel to adjudicate employee disputes; and agreement that the tribal employer will notify OPM if it ceases to carry out at least one program under the ISDEAA or title V of the IHCIA. Responsibilities of tribal employers administering FEHB would also include eligibility determinations, enrollment, and notification requirements.
Among other things, the proposed regulations would also codify procedures and rules for payment; revocation and re-election of purchase of coverage; employee eligibility; enrollment and cancellation or termination of employee coverage; temporary extension of coverage and conversion to individual policy; and enrollment and eligibility appeal rights."

     "EPA Extends Comment Period on Clean Energy Incentive Program and Will Engage in Tribal Consultation; More Tribal Comments Needed," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-057, September 9, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-057, reported, "On August 31, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER extending the comment period for the Clean Energy Incentive Program to November 1, 2016. The notice states that "The EPA is making this change to allow for requested tribal consultation in response to the proposed rule." No information on the dates or locations for the tribal consultation sessions was provided in the notice nor has it been posted on the EPA website yet. Given that the final design of the Clean Energy Incentive Program will drive substantial investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout the country, it is important to ensure that tribes will be able to fully benefit from these opportunities. The FEDERAL REGISTER notice may be found here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-08-31/pdf/2016-20898.pdf
Background. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the Obama Administration's initiative to use EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to address a major cause of climate change by requiring states to create state plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric generating units that burn fossil fuels. The CPP aims to do this by not only reducing pollution from these regulated sources, but also by driving investments in alternatives to these regulated sources. The CPP is described in our General Memorandum 16-007 of January 14, 2016 [published in Winter 2015-16 IPJ] . The Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) is a component of the CPP that states have the option of including in their state plans. The CEIP will provide incentives for investments in renewable energy and demand-side energy efficiency prior to 2022, the year when the regulatory requirements of the CPP are scheduled to take effect. Although the CEIP is a short-term program to support early investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while it is in effect, it will be a major source of financial assistance. The CEIP is described in our General Memorandum 16-049 of July 22, 2016. In that General Memorandum we also highlight some key issues relating to tribal sovereignty on which tribes and tribal organizations may wish to comment."

     "Forest Service Issues Final Rule on Providing Forest Products to Tribes for Cultural Purposes; Proposed Rule on Land Management Planning," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-063, October 20, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-063, reported, "On September 26, 2016, the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, published a final rule on providing forest products to tribes for traditional and cultural purposes. 81 Fed. Reg. 65891. On October 12, the Forest Service published a proposed rule to revise the regulations governing land management planning for the National Forest system. 81 Fed. Reg. 70373. While these two rules are independent of each other, there are some important ways in which they are related. The deadline for filing comments on the proposed rule is November 14, 2016.
The final rule may be found here:
The proposed rule may be found here:
Forest Products for Traditional and Cultural Purposes Final Rule. The final rule on providing forest products to tribes is based on section 8105 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (PL 110-246, commonly known as the "2008 Farm Bill"). Section 8105 (codified at 25 U.S.C. § 3055) provides discretionary statutory authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to provide trees, portions of trees, and forest products from National Forest System land to tribes for traditional and cultural purposes free of charge. The commercial use of such trees, portions of trees, or forest products is prohibited. As explained in the preamble, since 2009, this authority has been implemented through an Interim Directive (ID) to the Forest Service Handbook. The final rule, which will replace the ID, will be codified in 36 C.F.R part 223, "Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber, Special Forest Products, and Forest Botanical Products," as a new section 223.15. It will also be integrated into the Forest Service Handbook as FSH 2409.18, chapter 80, section 82.5.
The final rule does not establish much in the way of substantive or procedural requirements for requests from tribes. Such requests "must be directed to the appropriate Forest Service District Ranger(s)' Office from which the items are being requested. Tribal officials are encouraged to explain their requests to the Regional Forester or designated Forest Officer and, if necessary, describe how the request fits a traditional and cultural purpose." (Emphasis added.) The rule incorporates a statutory definition of the term "traditional and cultural purpose," which, "with respect to a definable use, area, or practice, means that the use, area, or practice is identified by an Indian tribe as traditional or cultural because of the long-established significance or ceremonial nature of the use, area, or practice to the Indian tribe." 25 U.S.C. § 3052(9).
In the preamble, in response to a comment that had called for the Forest Service to prioritize the collection of forest products for traditional and cultural purposes over other uses, the Forest Service said that prioritization is outside the scope of this rule and that it determines how to balance competing demands for forest products and land use when revising or amending land management plans using the National Forest System Land Management Planning process (36 CFR part 219).
Land Management Planning for the National Forest System Proposed Rule. The Forest Service has a statutory duty to develop a land management plan for each of the units that comprise the National Forest System (154 national forests, 20 grasslands, and 1 prairie). As discussed in the preamble, all of the plans that are now in effect were adopted pursuant to regulations issued in 1982. On April 9, 2012, the Forest Service issued a revised final rule. 77 Fed. Reg. 21161 (codified at 36 C.F.R. part 219). There are fundamental differences in structure and content between the 2012 rule and the 1982 rule. The 2012 rule reflects 30 years of experience with land management planning, including an emphasis on adaptive management in response to changing conditions and new information. As such, the 2012 rule calls for an iterative approach which allows plans to be "amended" at any time in order to keep them current. The rule distinguishes between "amendment" of a plan and "revision" of a plan (a comprehensive process that is required by statute at least once every 15 years). Of the existing 127 land management plans, 68 are past due for revision, but the Forest Service does not have the resources to conduct all of the revisions at once. (Among other things, revision of a plan requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). 36 C.F.R. § 219.7(c).)
The purpose of the current proposed rule is to clarify the extent to which the underlying plan must be changed when an amendment is adopted. The 2012 rule includes four subjects that must be addressed in a plan: sustainability; diversity of plant and animal communities; multiple uses; and timber requirements based on the National Forest Management Act of 1976. 36 C.F.R. §§ 219.8-219.11. Briefly, the position taken in the proposed rule is that in a plan amendment the responsible official "must apply the requirements within §§ 219.8 through 219.11 that are directly related to the amendment" and the plan amendment "cannot make changes that are contrary to requirements of the 2012 planning rule." (Emphasis added.) In contrast, a new plan or plan revision "must bring the plan into compliance with every requirement within §§ 219.8 through 219.11." (Emphasis added.)
One way in which the forest products final rule and the planning rule are connected is that if a tribe is interested in forest products for traditional or cultural purposes from a particular area, but the tribe's interests are not accounted for in a management plan, the Forest Service could respond to the tribe's expression of interest in such an area by adopting a plan amendment to accommodate the tribe's request, without having to do a full plan revision."

       "NPS Final Rule on Tribal Members Gathering Plants in National Parks," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-044, July 12, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-044, reported, "On June 29, 2016, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has completed the process of changing its regulations to allow members of federally recognized Indian tribes to gather and remove plants or plant parts for traditional purposes at locations within National Park areas. The Final Rule was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on July 12 (81 Fed. Reg.45024) and takes effect on August 11. The Final Rule is available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/12/2016-16434/gathering...
Long-standing NPS regulations have prohibited gathering and removing plants or plant parts from areas in the National Park system except in limited circumstances, such as where specifically authorized by federal statute or treaty rights (36 C.F.R. § 2.1). On April 20, 2015, NPS published a proposed rule to relax this prohibition and create a process through which tribes can enter into agreements with NPS to authorize traditional plant gathering by tribal members. 80 Fed. Reg. 21674; see our General Memorandum 15-034 (April 30, 2015). The final rule completes the process of relaxing the general prohibition. Gathering and removal by members of federally recognized tribes is now allowed if NPS and the tribe have entered into an agreement that meets all the requirements set out in a new section of the regulations (to be codified at 36 C.F.R. § 2.6), and if the Superintendent of the park area has issued a permit to the tribe.
The final rule is generally consistent with the April 2015 proposed rule, although NPS did make a few changes in response to comments. A paragraph was added requiring the Superintendent to initiate consultation with the tribe within 90 days after receipt of a request to enter an agreement; if the Superintendent fails to do so, the tribe may submit the request to the Regional Director. An appeal process was added – if the NPS Superintendent denies a tribe's request for an agreement, a written decision must be provided, which can be appealed to the Regional Director. Also, as proposed , when an agreement is in place, the issuance of a permit by the Superintendent to the tribe would have required concurrence by the Regional Director; the requirement for concurrence at that step has been dropped. A definition of "traditional gathering" was added, which specifies that only hand tools are allowed.
To qualify for an agreement, a tribe must have a traditional association with the specific park area that predates the establishment of the park and the proposed gathering must be for a traditional purpose that is rooted in the tribe's history and important for continuation of the tribe's culture. In the preamble of the Final Rule, NPS says it believes that some 433 tribes may be associated with some 215 areas of the National Park system, and that it does not know how many of those tribes may be interested in seeking agreements under the Final Rule.
A tribe that wants such an agreement begins with a request to the Park Superintendent that must include descriptions of: (1) the tribe's traditional association to the park area; (2) the traditional purposes of the gathering activities; and (3) the gathering activities the tribe wants to conduct, including a list of the plants or plant parts to be gathered and methods to be used. The Superintendent must determine that the tribe does in fact have a traditional association with the park area and that the proposed gathering activities are for a traditional purpose.
The Final Rule lists a number of items that must be included in an agreement, including: a system for administering the gathering, with a means of identifying tribal members designated by the tribe to do the gathering; description of plants or plant parts that may be removed, specifying size and quantity; times and locations for gathering and removal; protocols for monitoring, with thresholds for intervention by NPS and tribal management; periodic review; and protocols for non-compliance. The agreement must also include a statement that sale or commercial use is prohibited, although, in response to comments, NPS included a statement in the preamble regarding the possible use by tribal members of plants or plant parts gathered in park areas under this rule to make and sell traditional handicrafts, saying such "limited commercial use … may help tribes maintain traditional cultural practices, which is a primary purpose of this rule. Accordingly, this rule does not purport to regulate or prohibit this activity." 81 Fed. Reg. 45033.
Prior to executing an agreement, the Superintendent must ensure compliance with applicable federal laws including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA). With respect to NEPA, the final rule adds specificity that was not in the proposed rule – NEPA compliance will require an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact. If the NEPA analysis leads to a finding that the agreement would have a significant adverse impact on park area resources or values, the Superintendent is barred from entering into it.
With respect to NHPA, the preamble includes a brief discussion in response to comments regarding the correlation between places where traditional gathering was historically practiced and the category of historic property known as "traditional cultural properties" (TCPs). While acknowledging some overlap, NPS says that "not every plant-gathering location will have enhanced cultural significance," and that nominating locations to the National Register of Historic Places as TCPs would not be a substitute for the final rule. Since NHPA compliance is a requirement, however, a determination of whether a proposed gathering location is eligible for the National Register as a TCP will typically need to be made. Eligibility (as distinct from nomination) may be beneficial, in part because it renders applicable NHPA section 304, which authorizes NPS to withhold sensitive information from disclosure to the public. With respect to ESA, the Final Rule requires that a clause be included in any agreement stating that it does not authorize gathering any species listed as threatened or endangered."

     "Comments Needed on Broadband Expansion in Indian Country," Hobbs-Straus GENERAL MEMORANDUM 16-043, July 11, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-043, reported, " President Obama has made the expansion of high speed internet across the United States, including on tribal lands, a priority of his Administration. In order to advance that initiative, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently published two Notices in the FEDERAL REGISTER requesting comment on proposals to build out broadband in Indian Country. The FCC states: 'The Commission has observed that communities on Tribal lands have historically had less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the population, and that greater financial support therefore may be needed in order to ensure the availability of broadband on Tribal lands. Accordingly, the Commission seeks to adopt mechanisms to advance broadband deployment on Tribal lands.'
Two Rules Available for Comment. On June 21, 2016, a Notice seeking comment on a proposed rule concerning several specific procedures that will apply to the Phase II auction for universal service support was published by the FCC in the FEDERAL REGISTER. 81 Fed. Reg. 40,235. Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/06/21/2016-14507/connect-a... Additionally, on July 7, 2016, the FCC published a Final Rule regarding the Connect America Fund. 81 Fed. Reg. 44,413. Available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/07/2016-14506/connect-a...   Importantly, the Final Rule includes language recognizing the challenges that exist for improving broadband access on tribal lands and asking again for comments to be submitted which will be used to assist the FCC in reaching its objective of expanding broadband access on tribal lands.
Comments on the proposed rule are due on or before July 21, 2016 and reply comments are due on or before August 5, 2016. Tribes without access to high speed internet may wish to submit comments on this vital infrastructure.
Since 2011, the FCC has issued sixteen different proposed rules requesting comments on the expansion of broadband on tribal lands and while several national Indian organizations have filed comments, very few individual tribes have. The FCC is moving forward on these initiatives and comments from Indian Country will assist in this development of critical infrastructure on tribal lands.
Notice Details. The FCC is specifically seeking comment on the process that will be used for determining which bidders will be awarded funding to build out broadband on tribal lands. Anyone who is legally, technically, financially and otherwise qualified applicant can become an eligible bidder, including a tribe or a business owned by a tribal member. The Notice requests comment on a criteria judging a bidder's ability to provide for the expansion of broadband on tribal lands which may be weighted to its advantage in securing a place as a winning bidder. Simply put, Indian Country has before it the opportunity to influence how the FCC will award funds to businesses coming onto tribal lands to develop broadband access to tribal lands.
In seeking comments from Indian Country the FCC is open to considering any alternative auction procedures that it can adopt that will enhance its ability to meet the goal of providing broadband throughout tribal lands. This bidding process will have significant impact on the future of broadband in Indian Country and so it is crucial that the FCC hear from Indian Country on this."

     "FCC Publishes Lifeline and Link Up Final Rule with Tribal Implications; Comment Period Remains Open for Certain Tribal-Specific Provisions and on Broadband Deployment in Indian Country Generally," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 16-039, June 20, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-039, reported, "On May 24, 2016, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) published a Final Rule in the FEDERAL REGISTER amending 47 C.F.R. Part 54 which is intended to modernize and reform the Lifeline and Link Up programs. 81 Fed. Reg. 33026. The Final Rule shifts Lifeline from a program primarily focused on providing low-income consumers with access to voice service to a program primarily focused on providing low-income consumers with access to broadband service. The Final Rule is available at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-24/pdf/2016-11284.pdf
Background. The FCC published its first Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on potential reform to the program on February 6, 2012, and a second NPRM on June 22, 2015. While the Final Rule addresses several of the tribal-specific issues raised in the proposed rule-makings, other more controversial tribal-specific issues remain 'open for consideration in a future proceeding more comprehensively focused on advancing broadband deployment [on] Tribal Lands'. This indicates an interest by the FCC in developing a comprehensive broadband deployment plan focused specifically on Indian Country – which is woefully behind even other rural communities in its ability to access broadband. The FCC was recently called before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) in April, 2016, following the release of Government Accountability Office Report GAO-16-222 'Telecommunications: Additional Coordination and Performance Measurement Needed for High-Speed Internet Access Programs on Tribal Lands' . In the hearing, the SCIA examined the FCC's role in facilitating broadband deployment on tribal lands and directed the FCC to take additional actions to ensure tribal residents have access to broadband. The opportunity to provide comments on the open issues in the second NPRM remains open indefinitely and tribes and tribal organizations may want to submit comments encouraging the FCC to begin consultation on advancing comprehensive broadband deployment on tribal lands.
Eligibility. The Lifeline program provides a monthly discounted telephone bill to low-income consumers, including wireless cell phone service. The current Lifeline program offers a monthly discount of $9.25 per month for low-income individuals enrolled in the program, and low-income residents of tribal lands are eligible for an additional subsidy of up to $25.00 for a total discount of up to $34.25 per month ('enhanced Tribal subsidy'). This enhanced Tribal subsidy was adopted in 2000 in recognition of disparate rates of telephone and wireless cell phone service on tribal lands. To qualify for the Lifeline program, a tribal participant must be at or below of 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or eligible for participation in designated Tribal, Federal or State assistance programs.
In its second NPRM, the FCC requested comments on which federal assistance programs it should continue to use to qualify low-income consumers for Lifeline. If a consumer qualifies for one of those programs and resides on Indian lands, they are also eligible for the enhanced Tribal subsidy. The National Congress of American Indians strongly recommended that the FCC retain the current list of eligible programs for low-income residents of tribal lands. The FCC accepted that recommendation. One of the more controversial issues held over for additional comments is a proposal limiting eligibility for the enhanced Tribal subsidy to tribal residents of counties with less than 15 people per square mile. This would have severely impacted tribal residents in states like Oklahoma and other tribes located anywhere but in a severely rural area. This proposal was met with stiff tribal opposition and the FCC is still accepting comments on this issue.
Currently, Lifeline providers are required to determine subscriber eligibility for Lifeline. However, the FCC, concerned with the potential for waste, fraud and abuse, included in the Final Rule the creation of a 'National Verifier' system. This system is intended to eliminate administrative and compliance costs for providers by instead placing the responsibility and risk of verifying subscriber eligibility in the hands of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation (USAC) (with oversight by the Universal Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau). Potential subscribers must demonstrate eligibility for the Lifeline program by showing proof of eligibility or enrollment in eligible federal and tribal programs. The Final Rule directs USAC to work closely with tribes to develop "the most efficient pathways to determining subscriber eligibility"; allows tribal documents to be used as proof of eligibility; and provides tribes with access to the National Verifier database.
Incentives for Participation. In an effort to increase the number of carriers and incentivize providers to offer better quality services, the Final Rule creates a streamlined Lifeline Broadband Provider Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) Designation Process. A broadband provider's petition for ETC designation as a Lifeline Broadband Provider will be subject to a 60-day review and approval instead of 6-month review and approval so long as they meet certain criteria demonstrating financially stability and experience providing broadband services. Importantly, the Final Rule exempts tribally-owned and -controlled facilities that provide services on tribal lands from the experience requirement. This creates the opportunity for a tribe to create a tribally-owned telecommunication company to provide these and other telecommunications services to its residents.
Better Understanding Barriers to Inclusion. Of additional note, the Final Rule directs the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to develop a comprehensive plan to better understand the non-price barriers to digital inclusion for consumers, including residents of tribal lands; directs USAC to make information on the number of tribal consumers receiving the enhanced Tribal subsidy publicly available; and allows residents of the "Cherokee outlet" to remain eligible for the enhanced Tribal subsidy."

     "Voting Rights Act Native Language Assistance Areas," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-075, December 9, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-075, reported, " The Census Bureau published in the December 5, 2016, FEDERAL REGISTER the attached notice updating the list of counties or other political subdivisions which must comply with the requirements of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act concerning minority languages. Assistance is required in the voting process for Native language-speaking persons in portions of: Alaska; New Mexico; Arizona; California; Colorado, Connecticut; Iowa; Mississippi; Texas; and Utah.
In 1975, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to curb the discriminatory impact of English-only voting where it effectively excluded non-English speaking or "language minority" citizens from the voting process. Section 203 of the Act requires translated election materials, oral interpretation and aid, and other language-sensitive assistance in certain areas based on minority group size and high rates of illiteracy. In 1992, Congress amended Section 203 of the Act to include political subdivisions that contain all or any part of an Indian reservation in which over five percent of the residents are members of a single language group, are limited-English-proficient, and possess have a rate of citizens who have not completed the fifth grade that exceeds the national average.
The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing voting rights under Section 203. Indian tribes in the states listed above may wish to monitor the level of assistance provided. "

     The U.S. Board for Geographical Names voted 12 to 0, with 1 abstention, in August 2016, to change the name of Harney Peak in the Black Hills to Black Elk Peak. Previous attempts led by Lakota elder Basil Braveheart to have the South Dakota's naming board change the name of the highest mountain East of the Rocky Mountains had failed. Numerous tribes have wanted the name changed, as Army Gen. William S. Harney’s troops massacred Lakota women and children in the so-called Battle of Blue Water Creek near what is now Winnebago, NB, in September 1855. General Harney never came within five miles of the mountain, but on that same expedition, a surveyor with Harney’s party named the peak for the general. [Nicholas Black Elk speaks of that peak in Neihart's volume interviewing Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks] ( David Rooks, "Breaking: Black Elk Peak Soars Above The He Sapa, No Longer Harney Peak," ICTMN, August 12, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/breaking-black-elk-peak-soars-above-the-he-sapa-no-longer-harney-peak/).

      For actions and reports by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) go to: www.nigc.gov/.

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Federal Indian Budgets

       Congress passed and the President signed two continuing resolutions in December 2016.

     "FY 2017 Continuing Resolution through December 9 Enacted," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 16-059, September 29, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-059, reported, " Today President Obama has signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) which will provide FY 2017 funding for federal agencies from the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1, 2016) through December 9, 2016, thus averting a government shutdown. A summary of the CR as posted by the Senate Appropriations Committee may be found here: http://bit.ly/2dmKiyi .
The Continuing Resolution is Division C of HR 5325, the bill which also provides full year FY 2017 funding for the Military Construction-Veterans Administration programs under Division A. The CR will, by and large, provide funding on a pro rata basis at the FY 2016 levels under the authority and conditions of the FY 2016 Appropriations. Our General Memorandum 16-058 (September 23, 2016) reported on the draft CR and the policy disputes which made its enactment a difficult task.
Funding Level/Limitations on the Distribution of Funds. As noted above, funding for most programs during the period of the CR will be at FY 2016 levels and conditions. There is a one half of one percent (0.496 percent to be precise) across-the-board reduction from FY 2016 funding levels. This reduction is made to account for some expiring spending rescissions and changes in mandatory programs. Without this half of a percent reduction, the spending cap would be exceeded. The across-the-board reduction does not apply to the Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism or to disaster relief.
The CR funds will not be distributed for programs that may have high initial rates of operation or for funds which are fully distributed at the beginning of the fiscal year. This is because of the possibility that Congress might eliminate or reduce funding for those particular programs in a final appropriations bill.
With regard to the distribution of funds during the covered period, the CR states:
This Act shall be implemented so that only the most limited funding action of that permitted in the Act shall be taken in order to provide for continuation of projects and activities.
However, agencies will be allowed to apportion funds in a manner that would avoid furloughing employees. These provisions are common in CRs and were also included in the FY 2016 CR.
Mandatory Funding Programs. Funding for entitlement and mandatory payments which were provided for in the FY 2016 Appropriations Act as well as activities under the Food and Nutrition Act will be continued at a rate that maintains current program levels.
Anomalies. Anomalies, provisions that differ from those in FY 2016, are relatively few and none are tribal-specific. Of significance is the inclusion of $500 million for disaster relief for severely flooded areas, many of which are in Louisiana. The funds will be distributed through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant.
Zika Funding. Division B of the Act is specific to activities related to the Zika virus. It provides $1.1 billion for this purpose. Of this amount $75 million will be available on a reimbursement basis for "health care conditions related to the Zika virus" to tribes, tribal organizations, states, and territories where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed active cases, with the majority of the funding going to Puerto Rico. Other funds would go to the CDC, National Institutes of Health, Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Flint, Michigan Water Crisis. The Act contains no funding to address the problems in Flint, Michigan, caused by lead in the water pipes and which has poisoned 9,000 children. Parties finally reached agreement when Republicans promised that such funding will be provided in the Water Resources Development Act, different versions of which have now passed the House and Senate and will be conferenced in the post-election session.
What's Next. Beginning October 1, Congress will be in recess through the November elections. They are scheduled to return November 14 for a week, break for Thanksgiving, and then be in session through much of December. The primary work of the post-election session will be to enact FY 2017 appropriations bills, likely as an omnibus vehicle that contains all of the remaining appropriations bills or as a series of smaller "minibuses" (groups of appropriations bills) as Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) are now advocating. On the other hand, a conservative House Republican faction is endorsing neither option and is instead advocating for another CR extending through March or even the entire fiscal year; however, this last scenario is the least likely to occur. Because the Appropriations Committees have reported out FY 2017 appropriations bills and their Members generally favor detailed appropriations bills which reflect the Committee recommendations, we expect some iteration of either an omnibus or a series of minibuses as the most likely outcome.
Among the many things at stake are hoped-for increases in the Indian Health Service and Indian Affairs budgets which have been recommended by the House and/or Senate Appropriations Committees (for example: Indian Health Service Purchased/Referred Care; clinic leases; built-in costs; behavioral health and Bureau of Indian Education Tribal Grant Support Costs and school construction. In addition, there are significant Committee-recommended increases for Health and Human Services tribal behavioral health grants and efforts to address opioid abuse).
Because the CR funds programs on a pro rata basis at FY 2016 levels, we list for your convenience our General Memoranda (GM) on selected federal agencies' final FY 2016 appropriations [published in the Winter 2015-16 issue of IPJ]:
Indian Health Service GM 16-005 of January 12, 2016
Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE) GM 16-008 of January 22, 2016
Labor-HHS-Education GM 16-010 of January 25, 2016
We expect the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidance to federal agencies in carrying out the Continuing Resolution."

        "FY 2017 Second Continuing Resolution Enacted through April 28, 2017, Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-076, December 12, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-076, reported, "On December 10, 2016 , President Obama signed a second Continuing Resolution (second CR) which will provide FY 2017 funding for federal agencies from December 10, 2016 through April 28, 2017, thus averting a government shutdown. A public law number has not yet been assigned. The House approved the bill on December 8 and then the Senate late the night of December 9. The Memorandum we sent on December 9, (General Memorandum 16-074) was drafted before the late night agreement was reached in the Senate which resulted in the enactment of the second CR.
The first FY 2017 CR (PL 114-223) extended from October 1, 2016 through December 9, 2016, and it provided funding for all federal agencies (including full fiscal year funding for Military Construction-Veterans Administration programs) (General Memorandum 16-059 of September 29, 2016). The text and summaries of the second CR as posted by the Senate Appropriations Committee are here:
Continuing Resolution Text: http://bit.ly/2h4qT6C
Section-by-Section Summary: http://bit.ly/2ginOOZ
Security Assistance Appropriations Act Summary: http://bit.ly/2h4sBEV
Disaster Relief Summary: http://bit.ly/2g8n7o0
The second CR will, by and large, provide funding on a pro rata basis at the FY 2016 levels and under the authority and conditions of the FY 2016 Appropriations. It also continues via reference provisions contained in the first CR, i.e., that it "shall be implemented so that only the most limited funding action of that permitted in the Act shall be taken in order to provide for continuation of projects and activities."
Accelerated Funding. The second CR accommodates an accelerated apportionment of funds for upfront needs for a number of programs. Three such examples are Indian Health Service funding for "the rate of operations necessary to provide for costs of staffing and operating newly constructed facilities" (Section 166); the Department of Housing and Urban Development Public and Indian Housing funding for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance "necessary to renew grants for rental assistance and administrative costs…" (Section 183); and the Census Bureau to maintain the required schedule for the 2020 Decennial Census Program. (Section 152).
Cures Bill Funding. The second CR contains $872 million as authorized by the 21st Century Cures Funding Act (HR 34) which the House and Senate approved the week of December 4 and which the President will sign. It is divided as follows: $500 million for State Response to the Opioid Crisis; $352 million for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health including on brain diseases and President Obama's cancer "moonshot" and Precision Medicine initiatives; and $20 million toward the Food and Drug Administration's efforts to speed up approval of drugs and medical devices. These are part of three new "Innovation Accounts" established by the Cures Act whose funds are located in the Treasury Department. While the Appropriations Committees must annually establish the amount to be drawn down from the Innovation Accounts, the funds are not counted against the Committees' funding allocations. Funds from the Innovation Accounts are to be in addition to any other funding made available under the regular appropriations process where Congress can determine the terms and conditions. For example, the opioid funding in the Innovation Account is directed at states, but the FY 2017 appropriations bill reported out by the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee would have made tribes directly eligible for SAMHSA opioid funding.
Other things of note in the second CR:
• $4.1 billion in supplemental funds for disaster relief;
• $170 million for water infrastructure and related health programs in Flint, Michigan;
• $10 billion in uncapped funds for military operations ($5.9 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations; $4.3 billion for the Global War on Terror); and
• The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is reauthorized and funded through April 28, 2017, but will require another extension next year.
What's Ahead. Given that the second CR ends five months before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2017) we expect federal agencies to be conservative in how they spend their funds, not knowing at this point the total amount of FY 2017 funding that will be appropriated for their agencies.
Funding via a CR, and the possibility that the entire fiscal year will be funded via a CR, makes very difficult the realization of hard-fought for increases in the Indian Health Service and Indian Affairs budgets which were included in the recommendations of the House and/or Senate Appropriations Committees (for example; IHS Purchased/Referred Care; clinic leases; built-in costs; behavioral health and further increases for Bureau of Indian Education school construction).
Because the CR provides funds on a pro rata basis at FY 2016 levels, we list for your convenience our General Memoranda (GM) on selected agencies' final FY 2016 appropriations:
Indian Health Service GM 16-005 of January 12, 2016
Indian Affairs (BIA/BIE) GM 16-008 of January 22, 2016
Labor-HHS-Education GM 16-010 of January 25, 2016"

     "House Republican Leadership Agrees to Trump Request to Delay FY 2017 Appropriations; Four-Month Continuing Resolution Offered," Hobbs Straus General Memorandum 16-072, November 17, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-072, reported, House of Representatives Republican leadership, following a meeting with Vice President-Elect Pence, announced today that, rather than working to enact individual FY 2017 appropriations bills or an omnibus bill, they will instead push for a new FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (CR) that would extend through March 31, 2017. This comes at the request of President-Elect Trump. House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) and numerous appropriators had earlier said they wanted to complete FY 2017 appropriations work this year, although the conservative House Freedom Caucus Members advocated for a year-long CR. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rogers (R-KY) said his Committee 'will begin work immediately on a Continuing Resolution at the current rate of funding to extend the operations of our government through March 31, 2017.'
We have not yet seen an official statement from Senate Republican leadership but there are some indications that they will go along with the plan, even though they also had earlier advocated for completing FY 2017 appropriations this year. Congressional Democrats are opposed to the proposal for a CR that would extend through March 2017.
The current CR under which federal agencies are being funded extends through December 9, 2016, so Congress will need to act by then. For agencies who were anticipating possible funding increases or helpful Committee report instructions, the CR is bad news. The proposed new CR would mean that federal agencies would be funded, for the most part, at FY 2016 levels and conditions.
Some Appropriations Committee members are indicating that the proposed new CR, given that it would take us half-way through the fiscal year, will be complex and contain a significant number of anomalies (funding or directives that vary from FY 2016)."

      Indian Health Service Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations Update
General Memorandum 16-051, August 8, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-051

     The House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee have each approved their FY 2017 appropriations bills for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. In this Memorandum we report on the recommendations for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The House and Senate bill and report numbers, are, respectively, HR 5538, H. Rept. 114-632, S 3068, and S. Rept. 114-281. For a description of the Administration's proposed FY 2017 IHS budget, see our General Memorandum 16-016 of February 20, 2016.
The House approved its Interior Appropriations bill on July 14, 2016, on a largely party- line vote of 231-196. President Obama issued a lengthy Statement of Administration Policy critical of the bill and its many legislative riders. The President also expressed appreciation for the funding level for Indian Affairs programs as a whole, noting Contract Support Costs, the Tiwahe Initiative and Indian Education, but criticized its lack of tribal funding in other areas.
Members of both parties remarked at the Subcommittee and full Committee markups of the Interior bills that funding for Indian programs is a high priority of the committees and has bipartisan support. In particular, Members expressed support for increased funding for tribal health, education and justice programs.
Given the shortened congressional session due to breaks taken for the Democratic and Republican Presidential conventions and the November election, we are not expecting "regular" appropriations bills to be enacted by the beginning of fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016). The highly partisan nature of Congress also works against enacting appropriations bills in a timely manner. It is likely that we will have a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will run well past the November election, maybe even into December, following which the appropriations bills would be bundled into one or several "omnibus" bills. Generally, a CR funds programs at their previous year's level and conditions although in some cases changes ("anomalies") are made for special circumstances. Even though we expect a CR, the FY 2017 recommendations made by the House and by the Senate Appropriations Committee are very important as they provide a foundation for negotiations on an end-of-year omnibus appropriations bill (s).
FY 2016 Enacted $4,807,589,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $5,185,015,000
FY 2017 House $5,078,636,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $4,993,778,000
The House proposes $84.8 million more than does the Senate Committee. The calculation of the difference between the two is a mix of the House concurring with nearly all the built-in costs requested by the Administration and recommending more for Purchased/Referred Care, for accreditation emergencies, and for Urban Indian health than would the Senate bill. The Senate Committee, on the other hand, provides more funding than does the House for a behavioral health initiative, a Native youth initiative, and clinic leases. In the Facilities area, the Senate would fund a small ambulatory health care facilities program while the House would fund new and replacement quarters. Both bills would provide "such sums as may be necessary" for Contract Support Costs, with an estimated need of $800 million.
Built-in Costs. The Administration requested $159 million for inflationary increases which would be allocated among the various programs: $26 million for pay costs; $14.4 million for non-medical inflation (2.1%); $75.4 million for medical inflation (5.8%); and $43.2 million for population growth. The House Committee recommended all but $16.1 million of the requested inflationary increase, for a total of $143 million. The only portion not in the House bill of the requested amount is $16.1 million of population growth funds under Hospitals and Clinics. By comparison, the FY 2016 final IHS appropriation contained only $19.4 million for inflationary purposes (for a 1.3 percent pay increase). It is apparent that the Senate Committee bill does not have nearly the amount of inflationary increases as recommended by the House, but we do not have the number at this time.
The House Committee Report questions the distribution of population growth funds, saying it does not reflect places where caseloads are growing and asks the IHS to consider an alternate method of distribution.
Staffing Packages. Both bills would provide the requested amount of $33 million for staffing and operation of new facilities: Kayenta Health Center, $182,000; Muskogee Creek Nation Health Center, $10.7 million; Northern California Youth Residential Treatment Center, $3.4 million; Flandreau Health Center, $6.3 million; and Choctaw National Regional Medical Center in Oklahoma, $12.4 million.
The House addressed two matters affecting IHS programs across-the board:
Advance Appropriations Report. The House Committee Report asks for a GAO report and evaluation on the use of advance appropriations for healthcare programs across the federal government, and their application to the IHS:
The Government Accountability Office is directed to report on the use of advance appropriations authority for healthcare programs across the Federal government, including problems encountered, any estimates of cost savings, and applications to the Indian Health Service. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 89)
Full Funding Report. The House Committee Report also directs IHS to provide a plan of what would be required to fully fund the Indian Health Care Improvement Act:
It has been over five years since the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), yet many of the provisions in the law remain unfunded. Tribes have specifically requested that priority areas for funding focus on diabetes treatment and prevention, behavioral health, and health professions. The Committee directs the Service to provide, no later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, a detailed plan with specific dollar amounts identified to fully fund and implement the IHCIA.
(H. Rept. 114-632, p. 89)
Na' Nizhoozhi Center. The Senate Committee Report expresses concern for the
Na' Nizhoozhi Center in Gallup, NM, which provides substance abuse services to members of many tribes and encourages the IHS to work with the Center and others to find a sustainable way to increase its capacity.
FY 2016 Enacted Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2017 Admin. Request Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2017 House Such sums as may be necessary
FY 2017 Senate Committee Such sums as may be necessary
The House and the Senate Committee agreed, consistent with the Administration's request, to continue Contract Support Costs (CSC) in FY 2017 at "such sums as necessary" and that CSC be its own separate account. Specifically, the House and the Senate Committee:
• Recommended an indefinite appropriation for CSC for the IHS and BIA;
• Included in their reports the same estimate of CSC funds that will be needed as did the Administration: $800 million for IHS which is $82 million over the FY 2016 estimate; and $278 million for BIA, which is $1 million over the FY 2016 estimate; and they
• Did not continue the problematic proviso from FY 2016 that unspent CSC would count against the next year's requirement (see below).
Both House and the Senate Committee heeded the request of many tribes and tribal organizations and did not repeat the CSC language which was in the FY 2016 appropriations act that would effectively deny the carryover authority granted by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Thus the pending FY 2017 appropriations bills do not contain this FY 2016 provision: "amounts obligated but not expended by a tribe or tribal organization for contract support costs for such agreements for the current fiscal year shall be applied to contract support costs otherwise due for such agreements for subsequent fiscal years."
House and Senate Committee IHS bill language:
For payments to tribes and tribal organizations for contract support costs associated with Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act agreements with the Indian Health Service for fiscal year 2017, such sums as may be necessary: Provided, That notwithstanding any other provision of law, no amounts made available under this heading shall be available for transfer to another budget account.
Senate IHS Committee Report Language:
The Committee has continued language from fiscal year 2016 establishing an indefinite appropriation for contract support costs estimated to be $800,000,000, which is an increase of $82,030,000 above the fiscal year 2016 level. The Committee has modified language to delete a provision that contradicted certain provisions of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. (S. Rept. 114-281, pp. 90-91)
House IHS Committee Report Language:
The Committee recommends an indefinite appropriation estimated to be $800,000,000 for contract support costs incurred by the agency as required by law, $82,030,000 above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.
The recommendation continues bill language making available for two years such sums as are necessary to meet the Federal government’s full legal obligation, and prohibiting the transfer of funds to any other account for any other purpose. Language addressing contract funds that go unspent in a given fiscal year is discontinued. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 90)
Finally, the House and the Senate Committee bills continue prior language in the General Provisions section:
Contract Support Costs, Prior Year Limitation
Sec. 405. Sections 405 and 406 of division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235) shall continue in effect in fiscal year 2017.
Contract Support Costs, Fiscal Year 2017 Limitation
Sec. 406. Amounts provided by this Act for fiscal year 2017 under headings "Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Contract Support Costs" and "Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, Contract Support Costs" are the only amounts available for contract support costs arising out of self-determination or self-governance contracts, grants, compacts, or annual funding agreements for fiscal year 2017 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service: Provided, That such amounts provided by this Act are not available for payment of claims for contract support costs for prior years, or for repayment of payments for settlement or judgments awarding contract support costs for prior years.
The House and the Senate Committee did not act on the Administration's proposal to transition CSC to a capped mandatory program for a 3-year period beginning in FY 2018, a proposal that is beyond the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees in any event.
FY 2016 Enacted $3,566,387,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $3,815,109,000
FY 2017 House $3,720,690,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $3,650,171,000
FY 2016 Enacted $1,857,225,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $1,979,998,000
FY 2017 House $1,928,879,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $1,890,303,000
Tribal Clinic Leases. The Senate Committee would provide $11 million ($9 million above the FY 2016 enacted level) as requested by the Administration to supplement funds for tribal clinic leases, while the House Committee would provide $2 million for this purpose.
Senate Committee bill language reads:
Provided further, that, of the funds provided, $11,000,000 shall remain available until expended to supplement funds available for operational costs at tribal clinics operated under an Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act compact or contract where health care is delivered in space acquired through a full service lease, which is not eligible for maintenance and improvement and equipment funds from the Indian Health Service.
House bill language reads:
Provided further, that, of the funds provided, $2,000,000 shall be used to supplement funds available for operational costs at tribal clinics operated under an Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act compact or contract where health care is delivered in space acquired through a full service lease, which is not eligible for maintenance and improvement and equipment funds from the Indian Health Service.
Health Information Technology. The Senate Committee did not provide the requested $20 million for a Health Information Technology Initiative, noting that IHS was allocated $60 million of Nonrecurring Expenses Fund from HHS, some of which can be used for IT programs.
Accreditation Emergencies. The House would provide $6 million for accreditation emergencies, while the Senate Committee would provide no funding for this specific purpose. The FY 2016 enacted appropriations included $2 million for this purpose.
The House Committee Report directs:
Funds may be used for personnel or other expenses essential for sustaining operations of an affected service unit, but these are not intended to be recurring base funds. The Director should reallocate the funds as necessary to ensure that agreements with CMS are reinstated, and to restore third-party collection shortfalls. Shortfalls should be calculated relative to a baseline, which should be the average of the collections in each of the two fiscal years preceding the year in which an agreement with CMS was terminated or put on notice of termination. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 88)
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The House would provide $1 million to fund the creation of a multi-state prescription drug monitoring program authorized by Section 196 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
FY 2016 Enacted $178,286,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $186,829,000
FY 2017 House $186,029,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $180,923,000
The House amount is the same as the Administration's Dental Services request as it includes a transfer of $800,000 to Direct Operations "to backfill vacant dental health positions in headquarters. The Service is encouraged to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to integrate preventive dental care at schools within the BIE system"
(H. Rept. 114-632, p. 88)
Volunteer Dentists/Centralized Credentialing. Both the House and the Senate Committees expressed strong interest in IHS establishing a pilot project for a centralized credentialing system for volunteer dentists, similar to what the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs have. The House Report directs the IHS to consult with those federal agencies and with private organizations to develop this pilot project. The Senate Report asks the IHS to consult with federal agencies, private organizations and state dental organizations and work to establish a pilot project.
The House Committee Report reads:
The Committee understands that the geographic isolation of Indian tribes makes it difficult to attract and retain dentists and may limit access to care as tooth decay continues to be a problem. One way to help address access would be to allow volunteer dentists to treat patients who can provide important services that will improve access to oral health care. The Committee directs the Service to conduct a pilot project to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to address workforce needs as well as volunteer providers similar to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs who have centralized credentialing systems. The Committee directs the Service to consult with these agencies and private organizations to include the credentialing of dentists in a pilot program. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 88)
The Senate Committee Report reads:
The Committee is concerned that tooth decay in Indian Country has reached epidemic proportions and notes that preschool children of American Indian and Alaska Natives have the highest level of tooth decay of any population group in the United States. The Committee understands that the geographic isolation of tribal health facilities makes it difficult to attract dentists to serve as providers and believes that one alternative to improve access to dental care is to allow volunteer dentists to treat patients. However, the Committee has heard reports that delays in getting approved healthcare providers credentialed to work at tribal or Indian Health Service facilities have resulted in candidates abandoning their efforts to volunteer because they could not be processed in a timely fashion. To address this problem, the Committee urges the Service to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to encompass volunteer providers. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have centralized credentialing systems and the Committee believes that the Service should consult with those Departments, as well as private sector credential verification organizations and state dental associations, and work to establish a pilot project to test the feasibility of a centralized credentialing system. (S. Rept. 114-281, p. 90)
FY 2016 Enacted $ 82,100,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $111,143,000
FY 2017 House $ 86,143,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $108,331,000
The Senate Committee would fully fund the Administration's requested $25 million program increase. Of that amount $21.4 million would be for a Behavioral Health Integration Initiative. The Administration's Budget Justification explains that funding would be available to tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations to expand the behavioral health services to areas outside the traditional health care system. Funds could also be used for training, to hire behavioral health staff and for community-based programs. The remaining $3.6 million would fund pilot projects to implement a Zero Suicide Initiative.
Domestic Violence Program/CSC for Grants. The Senate Committee would provide the requested increase of $4 million for the Domestic Violence Prevention program.
Of note is that both the House and the Senate Committee address the issue of the IHS not paying contract support costs (CSC) on its grants – Domestic Violence Prevention; Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention; Zero Suicide Initiative; after-care pilots projects at Youth Regional Treatment Centers; funding for the improvement of third party collections; and accreditation emergencies. Neither bill continues the FY 2016 bill language of "Notwithstanding any other provision of law" preceding the listing in the appropriations bill of these programs which was apparently used by IHS to justify not paying CSC on these programs.
FY 2016 Enacted $205,305,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $233,286,000
FY 2017 House $216,486,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $225,750,000
The Senate Committee would fund the Administration's requested $16.8 million program increase which is focused on youth. The Senate Report notes that the funding is for "the alcohol and substance abuse program to focus on tribal youth and the incorporation of more holistic healthcare modes to improve outcomes. The Service is directed to allocate $2,000,000 of the increase provided for the alcohol and substance abuse program to fund essential detoxification and related services provided by the Service's public and private partners to IHS beneficiaries." (S. Rept. 114-281, p. 89)
FY 2016 Enacted $914,139,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $962,331,000
FY 2017 House $960,831,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $914,139,000
Included in the above House and the Senate Committee figures is $53 million for the Catastrophic Health Emergency Fund, which is $1.5 million over FY 2016. The House Committee Report references a GAO report on the distribution of Purchased/Referred Care funds and instructs how the increase is to be used. It also comments on the use of federal facilities outside of the IHS system. The House Committee Report reads:
The recommendation includes $960,831,000 for Purchased/Referred Care (PRC), $46,692,000 above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. The Committee remains concerned about the inequitable distribution of funds as reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO–12–446). The Service is therefore directed to allocate the increase above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level according to the PRC allocation formula normally reserved for program increases only.
The IHS is encouraged to evaluate the feasibility of entering into reimbursable agreements with Federal health facilities outside of the IHS system for patient referrals. Such agreements should be considered only when such referrals save costs and patient travel times relative to referrals to the nearest non-Federal health facilities, and when such referrals do not significantly increase patient wait times at such Federal facilities.
(H. Rept. 114-632, pp. 88-89)
FY 2016 Enacted $76,623,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $82,040,000
FY 2017 House $82,040,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $78,312,000
FY 2016 Enacted $18,255,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $19,545,000
FY 2017 House $19,545,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $18,562,000
FY 2016 Enacted $58,906,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $62,428,000
FY 2017 House Committee $62,428,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $58,906,000
FY 2016 Enacted $1,950,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $2,062,000
FY 2017 House $2,062,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $2,062,000
FY 2016 Enacted $44,741,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $48,157,000
FY 2017 House Committee $48,157,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $45,741,000
The Administration requested a program increase of $1,137,000 to develop a strategic plan for the Urban Indian Health program in consultation with urban Indians and the National Academy of Public Administration. This effort was begun in FY 2016 with $1.1 million being appropriated for the development of a strategic plan.
The House Committee Report encourages review and changing of authorizing statutes with the goal of providing Urban Indian organizations equitable reimbursement with IHS and tribal health programs:
The recommendation includes $48,157,000 as requested for Urban Indian Health, $3,416,000 above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. IHS should continue to include current services estimates for Urban Indian Health in future budget requests. The Committee recognizes that seven out of ten American Indian/Alaska Natives live in urban centers, according to the latest census data. Many of these individuals are, or are descendants of, individuals encouraged by the Federal government to move to urban centers during the termination and relocation era of the 1950s and 1960s, and are thus entitled to receive vital culturally appropriate health services from urban Indian organizations, just as they would have received health services from IHS-run and tribally-run facilities if they lived on or near a reservation. Unfortunately, urban Indian health organizations are struggling to recover their costs because they are not designated in relevant statutes as eligible providers on an equal par with IHS and Tribal Health Program facilities. The Committee urges the authorizing committees of jurisdiction to review these statutes and make any changes necessary for urban Indian organizations to receive equitable reimbursement for the culturally appropriate services they provide to Native individuals, including Native veterans. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 89)
FY 2016 Enacted $48,342,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $49,345,000
FY 2017 House $49,345,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $49,345,000
Programs funded under Indian Health Professions are: Health Professions Preparatory and Pre-Graduate Scholarships; Health Professions Scholarships; Extern Program; Loan Repayment Program; Quentin N. Burdick American Indians Into Nursing Program; Indians Into Medicine Program; and American Indians into Psychology. As requested by the Administration, the Senate bill language would provide $36 million for the loan repayment program, while the House bill would provide $37 million for this purpose.
Health Administration. The House Committee Report notes that the term "any other health profession" in the definition of health profession at section 1603(10) of title 25, United States Code, includes "health administration".
FY 2016 Enacted $2,442,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $2,488,000
FY 2017 House $2,488,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $2,442,000
Funding is for new and continuation grants for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of contracting IHS programs, developing tribal management capabilities, and evaluating health services. Funding priorities are, in order: 1) tribes that have received federal recognition or restoration within the past five years; 2) tribes/tribal organizations that are addressing audit material weaknesses; and 3) all other tribes/tribal organizations.
IHS notes that in FY 2015, 88 percent of the funding awarded focused on Health Management Structure; 8 percent on planning grants; and 4 percent on Evaluation studies.
FY 2016 Enacted $72,338,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $69,620,000
FY 2017 House $70,420,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $69,620,000
The IHS noted in its budget submission that 58.7 percent of the Direct Operations budget would go to Headquarters and 41.3 percent to the 12 Area Offices. Tribal Shares funding for Title I contracts and Title V compacts are also included.
FY 2016 Enacted $5,735,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $5,837,000
FY 2017 House $5,837,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $5,735,000
The Self-Governance budget supports implementation of the IHS Tribal Self-Governance Program including funding required for Tribal Shares; oversight of the IHS Director's Agency Lead Negotiators; technical assistance on tribal consultation activities; analysis of Indian Health Care Improvement Act new authorities; and funding to support the activities of the IHS Director's Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee.
The IHS estimated in its budget justification that in FY 2016, $1.8 billion will be transferred to tribes to support 92 ISDEAA Title V compacts and 117 funding agreements.
While the entitlement funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) is not part of the IHS appropriations process, those funds are administered through the IHS. SDPI is currently funded through FY 2017 at $150 million (see our General Memorandum 15-032 of April 17, 2015). As mentioned under the Legislative Initiatives section, the Administration is proposing that SDPI be permanently authorized at $150 million per fiscal year.
FY 2016 Enacted $523,232,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $569,906,000
FY 2017 House $557,946,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $543,607,000
FY 2016 Enacted $73,614,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $76,981,000
FY 2017 House $76,464,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $76,981,000
As of October 1, 2015, the Backlog of Essential Maintenance, Alteration, and Repair is $473 million. Maintenance and Improvement (M&I) funds are provided to Area Offices for distribution to projects in their regions. Funding is for the following purposes: 1) routine maintenance; 2) M&I Projects to reduce the backlog of maintenance; 3) environmental compliance; and 4) demolition of vacant or obsolete health care facilities. The Act provides that up to $500,000 may be deposited in a Demolition Fund to be used for the demolition of vacant and obsolete federal buildings.
FY 2016 Enacted $222,610,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $233,858,000
FY 2017 House $233,858,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $226,005,000
FY 2016 Enacted $22,537,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $23,654,000
FY 2017 House $23,654,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $22,537,000
The House and the Senate Committee bills continue language to provide up to $500,000 to purchase TRANSAM equipment from the Department of Defense, up to $2.7 million for the purchase of ambulances, and $500,000 for a Demolition Fund to destroy Federal buildings.
The Administration's request was to distribute the FY 2017 requested funds as follows: $18 million for new and routine replacement medical equipment at over 1,500 federally- and tribally-operated health care facilities; $5 million for new medical equipment in tribally-constructed health care facilities; and $500,000 each for the TRANSAM and ambulance programs.
Construction of Sanitation Facilities
FY 2016 Enacted $ 99,423,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $103,036,000
FY 2017 House $103,036,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $103,036,000
IHS projects that the funds would be distributed as follows: 1) $57 million for projects to serve new or like-new housing; 2) $43 million for projects to serve existing homes; 3) $2 million for projects such as studies, training, or other needs related to sanitation facilities construction; and 4) $1 million emergency projects. The IHS sanitation facilities construction funds cannot be used to provide sanitation facilities for HUD-built homes.
Construction of Health Care Facilities
FY 2016 Enacted $105,048,000
FY 2017 Admin. Request $132,377,000
FY 2017 House $120,934,000
FY 2017 Senate Committee $115,048,000
While neither the House nor the Senate Committee recommended the full amount requested by the Administration, under the Administration's request the following would have been provided:
Phoenix Northeast Health Center $52.5 million
Whiteriver Hospital, Whiteriver, AZ $15.0 million
Rapid City Health Center $28.7 million
Dikon Alternative Rural Health Center, Dikon, AZ $15.0 million
The Senate Committee Report directs the IHS to provide within 60 days of enactment "a spending plan to the Committee that details the project-level distribution of funds provided for healthcare facilities construction." It also directs the IHS to work with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium "to formulate options for facilities upgrades and ultimately a replacement facility at Mt. Edgecombe in Sitka." (S. Rept. 114-281, p. 91)
Small Ambulatory Program Health Care Facilities. As requested by the Administration, the Senate Committee would provide $10 million for this program which has not been funded since 2008. The Senate Committee noted that "this program is another critical tool for addressing facilities maintenance and construction backlogs throughout the nation. The Committee encourages the Service to give strong consideration to utilizing these new resources to assist with infrastructure improvements at remote sites such as Gambell and Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska" (S. Rept. 114-281, p. 91)
The Administration's description of its request for the Small Ambulatory Program is:
Funding would be for facilities smaller than health centers which do not qualify for the IHS Health Care Facilities Construction Priority System. Funds are for "the construction, expansion or modernization of non-IHS owned small tribal ambulatory health care facilities located apart from a hospital." (p. CJ-176)
New and Replacement Quarters. The House Committee Report, "recognizing that inadequate and non-existent staff quarters are a significant impediment to recruitment, the staff recommendation includes $12,000,000 as requested for staff quarters." (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 90)The Administration's description of its request for new and replacement quarters is:
Citing that the greatest need for new and replacement quarters is in the Great Plains, Navajo and Alaska Areas, the funds would be used "to initiate the replacement and addition of quality housing for health care professionals in these three Areas. The amount distributed to each Area will be based on each Area's internal priority list that will be completed by mid-FY 2016". (p. CJ-176)
Facility Access Analysis. The House Committee Report requests a" gap analysis" from IHS regarding health facility access for IHS patients:
In order to ensure that IHS patients across the system have fairly equal access to healthcare, the IHS is directed to conduct and publish a gap analysis of the locations and capacities of patient health facilities relative to the IHS user population. The analysis should include: facilities within the IHS system, including facilities on the Health Facilities Construction Priority System list and the Joint Venture Construction Program list; and facilities within private or other Federal health systems for which agreements with IHS exist, or should exist, to see IHS patients. (H. Rept. 114-632, p. 90)"

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In the Courts

      The U.S. Supreme Court

        Giulia McDonnell, "U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Ecuador Must Pay Chevron $96 Million," July 17, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/us-supreme-court-rules-ecuador-must-pay-chevron-96-million, reported, "On July 8, 2016, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that Ecuador must pay the oil company Chevron $96 million for breaching a contract from 1973. This 1973 contract consisted of an arrangement between Chevron and the government of Ecuador, which stated that Chevron would be able to cultivate oil fields in the Amazonian rainforest if the oil company agreed to provide consumers with oil at below market prices. However, in 1992 the contract was ended as the government of Ecuador claimed that Chevron was causing irreversible damage to the environment through countless unsupervised oil spills.
In November of 2013, the Supreme Court in Ecuador ruled that Chevron owed Ecuador $9.51 billion for environmental damage, but lawyers in Ecuador have still not succeeded in pressuring Chevron to administer the payment. Chevron claims the ruling was obtained solely through corruption. The Union of Affected Peoples by Texaco (UDAPT), which is made up of more than 30,000 Indigenous and rural farmers, has issued a statement condemning the Supreme Court Ruling forcing Ecuador to pay more than $96 million to Chevron. The UDAPT is urging the government of Ecuador to pay the sum of money to the victims of the environmental crimes committed by Chevron, instead of granting the money directly to oil giant. The UDAPT has called on 'various social organizations to form a common front to fight against this violation of human rights of citizens to urge the Ecuadorian State to impose the Ecuadorian judicial order, meaning, to pay the sum to those affected by Texaco’s operations, instead of to the oil company.' This way, the UDAPT claims, 'money that Chevron has been trying to take from Ecuadorians can stay within Ecuador, instead helping those affected by Chevron’s acts.'
According to "Crudo Amazonico," a 1993 report written by environmental lawyer Judith Kimberling, Texaco unloaded more than 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into the surrounding Ecuadorian Amazon and was at fault for more than 16.8 million gallons of crude oil spilling in the region for a period of 20 years, from 1972 to 1992. Amnesty International reported in 2007 that the levels of oil chemicals such as hydrocarbon concentrations in various bodies of water in the Ecuadorian Amazon was about 280 times the levels sanctioned acceptable in Europe. A plaintiff representing the Indigenous Secoya communities in a lawsuit against Chevron that lasted more than 21 years, explained the degradation facing their communities ever since oil companies, especially Chevron, arrived in the region in the 1960s and 1970s. The plaintiff stated in the affidavit that "our health has been damaged seriously by the contamination caused by Texaco. Many people in our community now have red stains on their skin and others have been vomiting and fainting. Some little children have died because their parents did not know they should not drink the river water." The 26 sites’ inspections conducted in the framework of the lawsuit Aguinda v. Chevron Texaco before the Provincial Court of Sucumbíos (2011) showed a cancer rate three times higher than the State average, with a greater frequency in stomach (20%) and uterus cancer (20%) and in leukemia (9%). In addition, the concerned population experimented skin diseases, hepatic diseases, kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, and, for women, numerous cases of miscarriage. According to the 2010 census, there are 1.018 million Indigenous People in Ecuador, representing 7 percent of the total population.
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa , has appealed for international solidarity and support. He claims that transnational companies, like Chevron, knowingly destroy the surrounding environment and then recuse themselves of all blame for the damage caused by their practices. The UADPT has urged the government to transfer 'the credit currently held by the State in favor of the oil company' to 'those affected so they may begin plans and projects to repair the immense social and environmental damages.' Ecuador has only until July 20, 2016 to pay Chevron the sum of $96 million."

      Suzette Brewer, "Breaking: Victory for Tribes as SCOTUS Ties in Dollar General," June 23, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/breaking-victory-for-tribes-as-scotus-ties-in-dollar-general/, reported, "In a narrow victory for the nation’s 567 federally-recognized tribal nations, the United States Supreme Court today announced a 4-4 deadlock in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians , which allows a 5th Circuit opinion in favor of the tribe to stand. Notwithstanding a petition for rehearing the case, the retail giant will be now subject to the tribal court’s jurisdiction in a long-running case that had grave consequences for tribal civil jurisdiction for contracts and tort violations by non-Indians on Indian lands.
This case began in 2003 with an alleged sexual assault of a minor by the non-Indian manager of a Dollar General store on the Choctaw Indian Reservation in Mississippi. As a participant in the tribe’s Youth Opportunity Program, a 13-year-old boy was allegedly sexually assaulted several times on the job by the store’s manager, Dale Townsend, according to court documents."
"In short , Dollar General had knowingly and willingly agreed to tribal jurisdiction when it became a lessee on Choctaw land a contract negotiated by both corporate and tribal legal teams."

      Lower Federal Courts

     "Appeals Court Holds Age Discrimination Act Does Not Waive Tribal Sovereign Immunity," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-066, October 24, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-066, reported,
On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the ADEA) does not abrogate tribal sovereign immunity. The court’s ruling is consistent with similar rulings by other federal courts of appeal.
In Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians, No.15-13552 (11th Cir. Oct. 18, 2016), an employee of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (the Tribe) sued the Tribe alleging that she had been fired because of her age and replaced by a younger employee, a violation of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. The Tribe moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that tribal sovereign immunity prevented her suit. The district court ruled in favor of the Tribe and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.
Given that the Tribe had not waived its own sovereign immunity, the Eleventh Circuit analyzed the ADEA to see if Congress had abrogated tribal sovereign immunity when it passed the law in 1967. Williams had argued that Congress waived tribal sovereign immunity when it passed the ADEA because Congress failed to include Indian tribes in the list of exempt entities. Williams said that because Congress had included Indian tribes in the list of exempt entities when it passed the Civil Rights Act three years earlier, its failure to include tribes in the ADEA meant that Congress intended to waive tribal sovereign immunity. She argued that Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445 (1976) controlled the case. In Fitzpatrick, the Supreme Court held that states could be sued under the Civil Rights Act after Congress removed them from the list of entities immune from suit.
The court rejected Williams' arguments. The court began its analysis with a powerful discussion of tribal sovereignty, quoting from the letters of Creek Chief Alexander McGillivray, the 1790 Treaty of New York, and numerous Supreme Court cases. The court wrote that the Tribe's sovereignty means "suits such as this one are barred by the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity, unless the plaintiff shows either a clear waiver of that immunity by the tribe, or an express abrogation of the doctrine by Congress."
The court distinguished Fitzpatrick by stating it involved the power of Congress under the Enforcement Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to limit the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity, and furthermore that Congress had specifically amended the Civil Rights Act in 1972 to remove the states as "employers". Thus, the Fitzpatrick case presented a totally different constitutional issue as well as one where Congress had acted proactively to create a statutory waiver of sovereign immunity. The court also found that the ADEA's language and legislative history as to its applicability to Indian tribes was ambiguous and not the "clarion call of clarity" required to waive tribal sovereign immunity.
The Eleventh Circuit further held that even if the ADEA did apply to the Tribe as a statute of general applicability – one that does not mention Indian tribes – that does not mean that Congress waived the Tribe's sovereign immunity. The court wrote, "even though the ADEA is a statute of general applicability, and the Poarch Band might be generally subject to its terms, the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity protects the Poarch Band from suits under the statute."
Finally, the Eleventh Circuit cited decisions of other federal courts of appeal, noting that the Tenth Circuit, Second Circuit, and Eighth Circuit all have found that the ADEA does not waive tribal sovereign immunity."
"10th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Ute Indian Tribe in Landmark Ruling Confirming Tribal Jurisdiction Over Mytin Townsite Lands," Ute Tribe Bulletin, Ft. Duchesne, UT August 10, 2016, http://www.utetribe.com , reported, "On August 9, 2016, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation se cured a groundbreaking victory in the ongoing federal court litigation to protect the Tribe’s home- lands, sovereignty and jurisdiction. In another strongly worded and significant order of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ute Indian Tribe has again prevented the State of Utah and its subdivisions from diminishing tribal jurisdiction and authority, this ti me with the Appellate Court re jecting claims by Myton, Utah which were similar to those which the Tenth Circuit had previously rejected in Ute III, Ute V, and the Court’s 2015 decision in Ute VI. The Tenth Circuit decision in Ute VI represented - then and now - a sweeping victory against unlawful s tate government inter ference with tribal sovereignty and upheld long- standing federal laws that promote the inherent rights of Indian Tribes of self-determination and self-government.   The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit began its opinion by stating that because the State of Utah and its subdivisions have refused to abide by the Tenth Circuit’s prior decision, "We’re be ginning to think we have an in kling of Sisyphus’ fate." In that analogy the Ute Indian Tribe is Sisyphus. It has been litigating this case for forty years, pre- vailing again and again, only to have the State of Utah and its subdivisions attempt to relegate issues that the State lost. Throughout this ordeal of the State’s making, the Ute Indian Tribe has steadfastly maintained its will to fight state encroachment, resulting in this series of victories. The Tribe’s hope is that at long last the State will stop spending vast sums of its taxpayers’’ money based upon the Sta te and its Counties and munici palities’ stubborn refusal o accept that the Ute Indian Tribe retains juris- diction over Ute land and people. But if not, the Tenth Circuit’s decision again reminds the Tribe that its unbroken will to retain its lands, sovereignty and jurisdictional authority has resulted in this most recent victory that represents a victory for all tribes. In its unanimous appellate decision today, the Tenth Circuit yet again stated with clarity that the Ute Indian Tribe should not be required to keep rolling the rock up the hill, that instead the State and its subdivisions are required to accept the jurisdictional boundaries which are settled by prior Tenth Circuit decisions. To underscore this, the Tenth Circuit ordered that the case be reassigned from Senior Judge Bruce Jenkins on remand because Judge Jenkins also has not complied with the Tenth Circuit’s mandates in favor of the Tribe.
The Tenth Circuit’s decision today was from the Ute Indian Tribes’ appeal of an order by the Utah District Court holding that the original one mile square townsite of Myton was not Reservation. Agree- ng with the Tribe’s argument on appeal, the appellate court reversed that decision. The Court reiterated that in Ute III and Ute V the Tenth Circuit more than thirty years ago determined that land which was restored to tribal trust ownership by the United States in 1945 is Reservation. Approximately half of the land in Myton was restored to tribal trust ownership in 1945, and therefore is, under Ute III and Ute V, Reservation."

        "Land Rights Win: Alaska Native Tribes Win Right to Place Lands Into Trust, Enhance Safety," ICMN, July 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/land-rights-win-alaska- native-tribes-win-right-to-place-lands-into-trust-enhance-safety/, reported, "Alaska Native communities have a bit more control over their land thanks to a July 1 ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that affirms their ability to place lands into federal trust, just as other tribes can, in what Alaska tribes are calling a landmark ruling.
More than land rights, the ruling enables Alaska Native governments to regulate alcohol, enforce criminal statutes and take other measures to protect members’ health and safety.
The court decision reverses a regulation that had barred Alaska Native tribes from putting Native land into trust, based on tenets of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. Under that law, Alaska Natives were granted 44 million acres, and $952.5 million went to Native corporations, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Aside from some tribes in southeastern Alaska, Native communities in that state were excluded from the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the legal mechanism by which the federal government could accept Native American lands into trust or create new reservations."
The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed a new rule erasing the trust exclusion in May 2014, but the State of Alaska stepped in to stop them, loathe to let the feds designate any trust lands. Thus implementation of the rule was suspended while the court case was decided. The July 1 court ruling said that Alaska’s appeal of the case "was moot because the Interior Department had already done away with the regulation Native groups were challenging,"

      Meteor Blades, " Federal ruling giving Nevada Indians better voting access may be key in close election outcome," Daily Kos, October 12, 2016, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/12/1581491/-Federal-ruling-giving-Nevada-Indians-better-voting-access-may-be-key-in-close-election-outcome?detail=emailLL&link_id=6&can_id=2304a48b2891e77b9b6c14d1ce535f4f&source=email-donald-trump-calls-on-his-goons-to-stop-other-communities-from-stealing-the-election&email_referrer=donald-trump-calls-on-his-goons-to-stop-other-communities-from-stealing-the-election&email_subject=donald-trump-calls-on-his-goons-to-stop-other-communities-from-stealing-the-election, reported, "Thanks to a decision by an Obama-appointed federal judge last week, It will be easier for American Indians to vote in Nevada this year. And, reports Megan R. Wilson, this could mean Democrats, who typically get the lion’s share of the Native vote in Nevada, will hang onto their Senate seat in that state being vacated by Minority Leader Harry Reid. in Nevada this year because of the court decision sparked by the efforts of the South Dakota-based grassroots voter rights advocacy group Four Directions.
In her Friday decision, Judge Miranda Du ruled that Mineral and Washoe counties must establish early-voting sites and Election Day polling stations on the reservations of two Paiute tribes. To register or to vote, members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation previously had to make a 96-mile roundtrip to and from Reno, and members of the Walker River Tribe had to make a 70-mile roundtrip from and to Hawthorne, something not required of non-Natives."

       Suzette Brewer, "Huge Victory for Tribes: Federal Courts Overturn Voter ID Laws," ICTMN, August 4, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/huge-victory-for-tribes-federal-courts-overturn-voter-id-laws/, reported, "On August 1, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland struck down a North Dakota law requiring photo IDs in order to vote, ruling that the law unfairly burdens the Native American voters who comprise one-fourth of the state’s electorate. Hovland rejected the state’s argument that the law was 'necessary' to prevent voter fraud, writing that '[t]he undisputed evidence before the Court reveals that voter fraud in North Dakota has been virtually non-existent.'
In January, the Native American Rights Fund filed Brakebill v. Jaeger on behalf of seven tribal plaintiffs in response to North Dakota House Bills 1332 and 1333, which allowed only four types of IDs to verify identity, disallowing even passports and military IDs."
"Monday’s decision is the latest in a series of recent federal circuit court decisions rejecting restrictive new voter ID and "proof-of-citizenship" laws that have been brought under Section Two of the Voting Rights Act that arose after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the federal law in 2013."

      Suzette Brewer, "Navajo Nation Has Jurisdiction in Mormon Sex Abuse Case, Judge Rules," ICTMN, November 18, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/navajo-nation-has-jurisdiction-in-mormon-sex-abuse-case-judge-rules/, reported, "On Wednesday, a federal judge in Salt Lake City ruled that the Navajo Nation has jurisdiction in a quartet of cases filed earlier this year by tribal members alleging that they were sexually abused during their time in a foster program operated by the Mormon Church from 1947 to 2000. The four tribal plaintiffs (now referred to as "the Doe Defendants") filed their suits in the Window Rock District of the Navajo Nation Court last spring.
Rather than responding to the complaints at the tribal court level, the church instead countersued the Navajo plaintiffs in federal court, asking Judge Robert Shelby to dismiss all four cases for lack of jurisdiction, as well as an injunction to stay the proceedings from moving forward under tribal jurisdiction.
In a dual decision addressing both complaints, Shelby denied both the church’s motion to dismiss and the injunction, writing that the Mormon Church must first exhaust all remedies in tribal court."

     Tom Harvey, "Federal Court Grants Judgment to Ute Indian Tribe, Voiding BLM Attempt to Regulate Fracking on Indian Lands, Ute Tribe sues Utah judge over lawsuit in his court," Ute Bulletin, July 15, 2016, www.utetribe.com, reported, "The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation achieved another significant victory on June 21 when the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming permanently enjoined the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from imposing debilitating fracking rules on the Ute Indian Tribe and its industry partners and then followed that up with a final judgment in favor of the Tribe on June 22, 2016.
The case was initially filed by the states of Wyoming, North Dakota, and several associations of energy producers, and the Ute Indian Tribe intervened in the case to ensure that the interests of the Tribe was adequately represented and to prevent the extreme harm which the BLM’s rule would have caused the Tribe’s economy."

        "Federal District Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Blocking Implementation of Department of Labor Overtime Pay Rule Nationwide," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-073, November 30, 2016, http://hobbsstraus.com/general-memorandum-16-073, reported, "As we reported in our General Memorandum 16-035 of May 24, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule that expands the number of salaried employees who are eligible to receive overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule doubles the minimum salary amount used as one prong of the exemption test for "white collar" employees in executive, administrative and professional positions, and was expected to expand overtime eligibility to millions of workers nationwide. The implementation of this rule was scheduled to begin on December 1, 2016.
However, on September 20, 2016, several states, including Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Oklahoma, brought suit against the DOL in the Eastern District of Texas challenging the new overtime pay rule. On November 22, 2016, Judge Amos Mazzant granted a preliminary injunction delaying the rule's implementation nationwide until he gives further consideration to the arguments made in the case. The Court has thus enjoined the DOL from implementing the new overtime pay rule on December 1, 2016.
The DOL has indicated that it is currently considering its legal options, which include a possible appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Complicating this consideration is the ongoing transition to the Trump Administration. President-elect Trump said he would look at revoking this rule altogether, or alternatively propose to exempt small business from its requirements. We will continue to monitor this case as well as any developments regarding the overtime pay rule, and will aim to provide updates on any critical changes that arise."

     "Federal Judge Rules in Favor of North Fork Casino in Madera, Calif.," ICMN, September 13, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/federal-judge-rules-in-favor-of-north-fork-casino-in-madera-calif/, reported, " The North Fork Rancheria cleared a huge hurdle last week in its ongoing attempt to open a casino a few miles north of Madera, California. In a 170-page decision, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell dismissed a legal challenge against the proposed casino by Stand Up for California!, Madera County church-related groups in the county, and the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, which owns the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino on reservation lands about 30 miles from the Madera County site. The legal arguments she rejected Tuesday were originally filed in 2012, reported fresnobee.com."

      Samuel White Swan-Perkins, "Big Win for a Small California Tribe," ICTMN, July 22, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/a-big-win-for-a-small-california-tribe/, reported, "An important decision by a Federal judge has a small band of California Natives in excellent spirits this week.
On Friday, Justice Frederick J. Scullin ruled against a request made by Butte County, California, to block a proposed casino for the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria on a parcel of land somewhere near the City of Chico.

       Alysa Landry , "Navajo Nation and Urban Outfitters Reach Agreement on Appropriation," ICTMN,  November 22, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/navajo-nation-and-urban-outfitters-reach-agreement-on-appropriation/, reported, "Nearly five years after the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit against Urban Outfitters claiming the clothing retailer appropriated the Navajo name and tribal patterns, the two parties have reached an agreement.
 The settlement, signed by a district court judge in September, marks an amicable end to a bitter legal dispute that erupted in 2012 when Urban Outfitters and its subsidiaries, which include Anthropologie and Free People, began using the Navajo name on its products. Items included apparel, outerwear and jewelry labeled as "Navajo" or "Navaho." The retailers also marketed a liquor flask decorated with Navajo patterns and a "Navajo hipster panty," both of which sparked outrage on the Navajo Nation where alcohol is prohibited and modesty is paramount."
"Although most of the details remain confidential, the settlement dismisses all claims with prejudice. The Navajo Nation and Urban Outfitters each agreed to pay their own expenses and attorney fees.
The settlement, finalized September 29, calls for the parties to work together under a license and supply agreement to create and market authentic Navajo products."

        The Southern Ute Tribe settled its law suit with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over fracking rules, November 4, 2016, with the BLM agreeing that the Tribe has primary authority over fracking on its own lands (Sacha Smith, "BLM, Tribe reach agreement on fracking rule," Southern Ute Drum, November 10, 2016).

     Julie Turkewitz, "Navajo Nation Sues E.P.A. in Poisoning of a Colorado River," The New York Times, August  16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/us/navajo-nation-sues-epa-in-poisoning-of-a-colorado-river.html?ref=todayspaper, reported, " The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Environmental Protection Agency and several corporations, saying that poisoned water that flowed from a punctured Colorado mine last year disrupted hundreds of lives near a critical watershed.
The disaster, the federal suit says, has heightened economic and spiritual pain in a region hamstrung by poverty and drought. The tribe is seeking to hold the agency and corporations accountable, be made whole for at least $2 million spent on testing and alternative water sources and be compensated for lost revenue and psychological damages.
"The lawsuit stems from an August 2015 episode in which contractors hired by the E.P.A. to assess a shuttered gold mine — the Gold King in southwest Colorado — accidentally broke the mine’s seal, causing about three million gallons of chemical-laced orange sludge to flow into the Animas River south of the mine and then into the San Juan."

       The Havasupai Tribe of Arizona filed suit in U.S. District Court complaining that 19 groundwater well owners have been an aquifer that provides water for the tribe, which lives in Havasupai Canyon (Krista Allen, " Havasupai Tribe sues19 well owners fro taking water," Navajo Times, December 22, 2016).

      Federal Agency Adjudication

     "ALJ holds National Labor Relations Act Applies to Tribe in Employee Bonus Case," Hobbs-Straus General Memorandum 16-067, reported, "On October 11, 2016, an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled in favor of a union against a tribe involving a labor dispute. The dispute in Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians v. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, centered on the decision of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians (the Tribe), which operates the Viejas Casino, to award lower annual bonuses to casino workers who were members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The Tribe claimed that the decision to award a lower bonus to union members was intended to equalize salaries between union and non-union members, as the UFCW employees received a higher salary than their non-union coworkers. The union alleged that the payment of lower bonuses to union members (1) was an unfair labor practice because it discriminated against employees by discouraging union membership in violation of section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and (2) was reached without first bargaining under the union contract in violation of section 8(a)(5) of the NLRA.
The ALJ first concluded that the Tribe did not discriminate against union members simply because it chose to pay lower bonuses to them. The ALJ said that she could not find evidence that the Tribe was motivated by an anti-union purpose. The ALJ also concluded that the Tribe's conduct was not inherently destructive of its employees' interests. Thus, the Tribe did not violate section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA. The ALJ, however, did conclude that the annual bonuses are a subject covered under the collective bargaining agreement between the Tribe and the UFCW that required bargaining before any changes could be made. The ALJ ruled that the Tribe’s decision to award lower bonuses to union members was a unilateral change and thus in violation of the Tribe’s duty to bargain under section 8(a)(5) of the NLRA.
The ALJ rejected the Tribe's argument that it was not subject to the NLRA in the first place and affirmed the jurisdiction of the NLRB over Indian casino operations first set forth in the NLRB’s 2004 ruling in San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, 341 NLRB 1055 (2004), upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino v. NLRB, 475 F.3d 1306 (D.C. Cir. 2007). The ALJ wrote that after San Manuel "the Board has repeatedly asserted jurisdiction over Tribal-owned and operated casinos." She also called the Tribe’s casino "a commercial enterprise in interstate commerce that plays no direct role in ‘intermural matters’ such as tribal membership, inheritance rules and domestic relations." Finally, she rejected the Tribe's assertion that the NLRA should not apply because the Tribe has enacted its own Tribal Labor Relations Ordinance.
The ALJ ordered the Tribe to rescind its policy to award differing bonuses and to pay union members an amount equal to the difference in bonuses. The Tribe remains free to bargain with the UFCW for new bonus amounts that take into account any difference in base pay."

      Tribal Courts

       In a case illustrating the importance of tribes having independent tribal courts, Judge Candice Des Armo Coury of the Stockbriodge-Munsee Tribal Court, in Wisconsin, in September 2016, ordered the St. Croix tribal council to reinstate five members that it had disenrolled in March 2016. The judge held that the disenrollment was "unconscionable and violates the basic tenets of justice and fairness." Disenrollment has been a major issue in recent years, with many tribal councils disenrolling members who have no effective recourse to review the action because the tribe either does not have a court, or the tribal court is not independent of the tribal council. Estimates are that perhaps 8000 tribal members have been disenrolled from 70 tribes (Gary King, "Judge orders reinstatement of Dt. Croix Tribal members," NFIC, September, 2016).

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Tribal Government and State and Local Government Developments

     "Tribal Approval of Cooperative Agreements with the State of Utah," Ute Bulletin, August 12, 2016, utetribe.com, reported, " The Northern Ute Tribe: The Ute Indian Tribal Business Committee issues the following statement to clarify the basis and rationale for its approval of three cooperative agreements with the State of Utah, Duchesne and Uintah County. Notably, Roosevelt and Wasatch are not parties to these agreements. Although they are able to participate, they have chosen not to. On June 14th, 2016, the Ute Tribal Business Committee passed Resolution 16-261, which approved the following agreements:
1. A Cooperative Agreement for Mutual Assistance in Law Enforcement.
2. A Cooperative Agreement to Refer Tribal Members Charged with Misdemeanor Offenses to Tribal Court for Prosecution.
3. A Disclaimer of Civil/Regulatory Authority. In exchange for the Tribe assuming jurisdiction over the Hagen lands for criminal offenses committed by Ute Tribal Members, the Tribe agrees in the third agreement, the 'Disclaimer of Civil/Regulatory Authority' to dis- claim all civil/regulatory authority over fee lands owned by non-Indians."

       "Arizona Governor, Tribes Sign Updated Gaming Compact," ICMN, December 1, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/arizona-governor-tribes-sign-updated-gaming-compact/, reported, "Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and representatives of nine out of 17 Arizona tribes renegotiated the state’s gaming compacts in Phoenix last week. The original compact was created 15 years ago.
'It’s time for us to modernize this compact to meet the changing needs of the state and to increase the opportunities for tribal gaming," Governor Ducey said. 'It’s a view that’s been expressed by tribal leaders over the years, and I agree. the time has come to allow each tribe more freedom in their gaming operations and give every Nation the opportunity to have a seat at the table.'
Notably not present at the November 21 convening was the Tohono O’odham Nation. The tribe operates the West Valley Desert Diamond Casino in Glendale, which the state denied a permit for Class III gaming last year due to its location. The dispute goes to the U.S. District Court on December 14.

     On Monday, October 10, 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed the first-ever Indigenous People’s Day for the state of North Carolina. A reading of the proclamation was held at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke on the steps of historic Old Main.
   UNC Pembroke was founded on March 7, 1887, to train Lumbee Indian teachers. Between 1939 and 1953, the institution was the only state-supported four-year college for American Indians in the United States. Designated in 2005 as North Carolina’s historically American Indian university, UNC Pembroke is today the leading institution of higher education for American Indians of the eastern United States (E-mail from Lawrence T. Locklear (Lumbee), M.P.A., Program Coordinator, Southeast American Indian Studies Program, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, sais@listserv.uncp.edu).

      Suzette Brewer, "Historic: Native Woman Appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court," ICTMN, June 29, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/historic-native-woman-appointed-to-the-minnesota-supreme-court/, reported, " Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton yesterday announced the appointment of Judge Anne McKeig to the Minnesota Supreme Court. McKeig, a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is the first American Indian woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court. Notably, for the first time since 1991, the majority of the seven-member court is comprised of women."

      Montana Governor Steve Bullock stated November 10, 2016 that he would consult with American Indian leaders before fulfilling any future requests to send police officers to the site of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Protest near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota ("Montana Governor Talking to Tribes before sending any more police to protests," NFIC, November 2016).

      Navajo Nation Governor Russell Begaye and Arizona Department off Veterans Service director Wanda Wright signed an agreement, June 24, 2016, to have the state train Din veterans service officers to assist veterans in obtaining Arizona and U.S. veterans services (Krista Allen, "Tribe, state to collaborate on veterans’ services," Navajo Times, June 29, 2016).

      Jack McNeel, "Spokane Tribe Celebrates Final Okay to Build Casino," ICTMN, July 19, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/spokane-tribe-celebrates-final-okay-to-build-casino/, reported, "The mood was celebratory as Spokane tribal members and their supporters gathered in downtown Spokane to celebrate Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s okay for the Spokane Tribe to build a casino at West Plains, just west of the city of Spokane. That okay had come on June 8 and was the final approval needed, following approval by the Department of Interior a year earlier."

      The Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs (CCIA) met at the Southern Ute Reservation, September 23, 2016. Discussion included a wide range of topics about tribal issues, tribal state agency cooperation, and grant availability. Concerning housing issues, discussion included the Ute Mountain Housing Authority Instituting a 10-unit housing project with social services for homeless people and planning to expand tribal housing at Southern Ute. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Procedure reported on its ongoing study of American Indian health care use and needs in the state, and the development of actions suggested by the study. Other discussions and reports concerned the environment - particularly water, youth, education, culture programs, and law enforcement (Robert L. Ortiz, "Tribe Hosts Colo. Commission of Indian Affairs Meeting," Southern Ute Drum, October 28, 2016).

       Frank Hopper, "City of Seattle Dumps Wells Fargo Over DAPL: Financing Dakota Access Pipeline puts US bank in more hot water," ICMN,  December 13, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/city-seattle-dumps-wells-fargo-dapl/, reported, "For months s upporters of the Standing Rock Sioux have been urged to boycott Wells Fargo, the world’s second largest bank, because of its financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Many closed their Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts, moving the money to credit unions. The amounts weren’t much, perhaps a few hundred or a few thousand dollars each. One supporter, however, represented a bit more, about $3 billion.
On Monday, December 12, the Seattle City Council introduced legislation that would effectively sever the city’s relationship with Wells Fargo. The bank currently manages the city’s $3 billion operating account, which includes the $30 million biweekly employee payroll."

     "Juaneno Band of Mission Indians Get Sacred Village Land," ICMN, July 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/juaneno-band-of-mission-indians-get-sacred-village-land/, reported, "For 12,000 years, the Acjachemen Nation lived and thrived on the land that is part of modern-day Southern California. Then the Spanish came.
Hundreds of years later, the Natives who today are known as the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians still cherish and hold ceremonies at their most sacred site, the village of Putuidem in Capistrano. In mid-June the city council approved a $3 million plan to turn the 1.3-acre spot of land into a park and education center for the tribe, essentially giving it back.
The tribe has had to watch over the years as their lands were first pillaged, then developed. Putuidem is the center of the tribe’s roots and culture, and that is what they are gaining control over, though the actual land will still be owned by the city. It is part of a plan that includes an entry road, a picnic area and a cultural center, according to the Los Angeles Times."

      Steve Russell , "How Did I Miss That? Utqiaġvik, Alaska Reclaims Stolen Name From Sir John Barrow," ICTMN, November 18, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/how-did-i-miss-that-utqiavik-alaska-reclaims-stolen-name-from-sir-john-barrow/, reported, " Utqia?vik, Alaska has voted by referendum to take its name back. Frederick William Beechey stole it in 1825 and gifted it to Sir John Barrow. The city formerly known as Barrow is the oldest permanent settlement so far discovered on the real estate claimed by the U.S."

       Amanda Blackhorse,"Take That, Columbus: Indigenous Peoples’ Day Unanimously Passes in Phoenix, ICTMN, October 7, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/take-that-columbus-indigenous-peoples-day-unanimously-passes-in-phoenix/, reported, "On Wednesday, Phoenix, Arizona, became the largest U.S. city to officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in opposition to Columbus Day."
"Cities that have opted out of celebrating Columbus include Albuquerque, New Mexico, Portland, Oregon, St. Paul, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Denver, Colorado, and Lawrence, Kansas."

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Tribal Developments

Steve Russell, "Sovereign Mineral Rights and Wrongs, Part II: In the Lair of the Black Snake," ICMN, December 28, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/sovereign-minerals-rights-wrongs-part-ii/, reported, " President-Elect Donald Trump is proposing a solution to the "problem" that Indian reservations are only two percent of U.S. land area (Indian land being claimed as part of the U.S.) but contain about 20 percent of the oil and gas reserves. His plan is to "privatize" tribal lands that have oil, and it is alleged that this scheme was the brainchild of Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition, chaired by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), and comprised of 27 tribally enrolled Trump supporters.
In the Trump campaign press release announcing the coalition on October 30, Mullin declared, 'The daily flood of new federal regulations keep Indian country from becoming self-sufficient. Local tribal decisions, not federal bureaucrats, are the best way to improve our communities.' This dovetails nicely with Trump’s promise to repeal environmental regulations that slow down or prevent the full exploitation of fossil fuels."
Stephanie Woodard, "A Deadly Month: Police Shootings of Natives Spike in October," ICTMN, November 16, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/a-deadly-month-police-shootings-of-natives-spike-in-october/, reported, " There were at least eight fatal police shootings of Native Americans in October. 'I’m overwhelmed,' said Marlee Kanosh, Paiute Tribe of Utah. Her Facebook page, Native Lives Taken By Police, is a source for information on police violence affecting indigenous people. With careful, respectful research and comprehensive coverage, she chronicles a terrible toll: Natives killed outright by police and those who die in custody."
" The number of Natives who died in October is much higher than the monthly average found in a 2016 study by Claremont Graduate University scholars Roger Chin, Jean Schroedel and Lily Rowen. They uncovered 29 deaths in a recent 15-month period, for an average of about two a month. The October police-shooting fatalities occurred around the country—one each in Washington state, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Nevada, along with three in Oklahoma."
There were no immediately evident reasons for the increase in Native deaths at the hands of the police. Lack of police training in dealing with people with mental problems is often a factor in such cases.

      American Indian experts have found that the risk assessment evaluations used after a person has been detained by law enforcement to determine how likely it is that a person will commit a serious crime or violent act are biased against Native American Youth, according to a University of Nebraska study. The result is that many American Indian and Alaska Native young people are labeled dangerous, when they are not, and are incarcerated or punished when they should not be.
The problem is that the risk assessment protocols do not take cultural differences in behavior and community practices into account. They were developed on the basis of mainstream norms, behavioral observations and world view, in an attempt to avoid subjective bias. But they have a built in set of biases that work against many poor people and members of minority groups, including Native peoples ( Tanya H. Lee, "Turning Native Kids into Criminals." ICTMN, August 19, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/turning-native-kids-into-criminals/).

      The International Association for Indigenous Aging implemented the 1000 Grandmothers Project to help tribes prevent Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUIDs) with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa of North Dakota, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, and the Hannahville Indian Community (Potawatomie) and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indian in Michigan. The project used a culturally appropriate evidence based approach, adapted for the particulars of each tribe, to assist with education concerning this serious problem. For 2010-13 the AI/AN rate was 190.5 per 100,000, more than double the rate for non-hispanic whites (84.4), and more than three times the rate for the whole U.S. population (Healthy People 2020; and International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA 2), www.iasquared.org).

      Kim Baca, "DoJ Listens to Navajo Nation Request, Will Investigate Loreal Tsingine Death," August 2, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/doj-listens-to-navajo-nation-request-will-investigate-loreal-tsingine-death/, reported, " The Department of Justice has agreed to investigate the death of Loreal Tsingine, a 27-year-old Navajo woman who was shot five times by a Winslow police officer after allegedly shoplifting at a Circle K on Easter."

      Disenrollment and the lack of independent tribal courts continues to be a major interrelated pair of problems in Indian country. Frank Hopper, "Feds to Nooksack Chairman: La-La-La-La! We Can’t Hear You!, ICTMN, October 18, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/feds-to-nooksack-chairman-la-la-la-la-we-cant-hear-you/, reported, "In a letter dated October 17, the Department of the Interior notified Nooksack Tribal Chairman Bob Kelly it does not recognize any of the Nooksack council’s actions after March 24. On that date the council fell below quorum when several council members’ terms were up and no new elections had been held to replace them.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts told Kelly, 'Accordingly, I am writing to inform you and the remaining council members that the Department will only recognize those actions taken by the council prior to March 24, 2016, when a quorum existed, and will not recognize any actions taken since that time because of the lack of a quorum.'
This effectively wipes out the council’s recent attempts to thwart the Nooksack 306, who are fighting to keep from being disenrolled. In March, Nooksack Tribal Court Chief Judge Susan Alexander was preparing to force the council to hold an election to fill the open council seats and reestablish a quorum, but the council fired her first. Critics speculated this was done to prevent the 306 from voting and potentially unseating members who favored disenrollment. During that same period the council disbarred the lawyers representing the Nooksack 306 from practicing in tribal court and refused to accept any motions they attempted to file."

        David Rooks, "Oglala Lakota Nursing Bringing the Elders Home," ICTMN, October 24, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/oglala-lakota-nursing-bringing-the-elders-home/, reported, "On October 6, a t the south end of White Clay, Nebraska, a town not known for healing and care, the Oglala Lakota Nation dedicated its new Oglala Lakota Nursing Home, a $16.5-million, 80-bed nursing home for the care of their elderly. The official opening of the facility caps nearly two decades of regulatory and political struggle."

     " Harlan McKosato, "Second Chance Maybe Only Chance: ABQ Homeless Trapped," ICTMN, August 22, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/second-chance-maybe-only-chance-abq-homeless-trapped/, reported that along Central Avenue in Albuquerque, NM one can often find "groups of homeless Indian people milling around with seemingly nothing to do or nowhere to go.
If you explore the history of homelessness in Albuquerque you will find that many of the Native people living on the streets and in the alleys of New Mexico’s largest city come from the surrounding pueblos and reservations, although others either grew up in the city or have migrated from out-of- state reservations.
There are several explanations for why the homeless problem has become an epidemic up and down Old Route 66. One reason you hear from social workers and the homeless, or former homeless people who made it off the street, is that they were exiled from their tribal communities because they were LGBT or they were ostracized because of alcohol and drug abuse and/or criminal acts that they committed.
Many of the homeless Natives in Albuquerque come here looking for better opportunities than their home communities have to offer. They are looking for employment and/or educational prospects that didn’t materialize, and they end up drawn towards other Natives in their similar situation."
The Indian homelessness problem in Albuquerque has been growing. Those involved say that there were programs a decade ago to help these homeless with addiction or alcoholism, but the programs have ceased. The main assistance now comes from churches.
"There is also a problem with physical violence and sexual abuse and even prostitution. Many of the homeless people get trapped in the judicial system which only exacerbates their problems and keeps them from getting off the streets."
"Yawakia left Zuni pueblo to seek better education opportunities, ended up homeless at one time himself, but eventually found good employment in Albuquerque and has made it his home. He is also an electrical mechanical engineer at the State Fairgrounds working on heating and cooling maintenance.
'Luckily we as Natives take care of each other,' said Yawakia. "These people that we serve here at the center are experiencing poverty. Yes we are experiencing domestic violence. Yes we do have drinking problems and heroin addiction – it’s on the streets. But we choose to give these people a second chance....but people deserve a second chance. It might be their only chance.'"

       The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado has continued to find more ways to move toward bringing back traditional Tribal Participation . In the spirit of community policing, in October 2016, members of the Southern Ute Community Police Department and Tribal Rangers met informally with community members in a "neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships and drink coffee. ("Coffee with a Cop on Oct. 7," Southern Ute Drum, September 30, 2016, p. 5.)
In October 2016, the tribe, with the assistance and facilitation of a consultant, undertook the first of a series of meetings to be held around the reservation to develop an updated comprehensive land use plan for the tribe. (Jodie Rosier, Tribal Planner, "Come and provide your ideas to continue growing a vibrant community," Southern Ute Drum, September 30, 2016, p. 6).
The Southern Utes have also instituted an annual survey of tribal members concerning their satisfaction with tribal government, programs and services, begun for its second year, October 20, 2016 ("Tribe asks for feedback from membership," Southern Ute Drum, October 14, 2016).

      The Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado broke ground on an expansion of member housing, October 17, 2016, to encompass 80 houses and 25 townhouses at its Cedar Point housing (Damon Toledo, "Cedar Point Expansion is underway ," Southern Ute Drum, October 28, 2016).

       Santa Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico is building a housing project adjacent to the New Mexico Rail Runner Station on the Pueblo, to make it easier for Pueblo residents to travel to work or school in Santa Fe or Albuquerque (USA Today, June 3, 2016).
Santa Ana Pueblo bought back the 100 square mile Alamo Ranch in Sandaval County, NM, at the end of June 2016, and will keep the land in its natural condition (Steve Sinovic, "Ranch purchase a major milestone for Santa Ana," Albuquerque Journal, July 2, 2016).

        The Navajo Nation 2017 budget of $626.4 million is $4 million more than the 2016 Nation budget, and for the first time includes funding for amber alert on the reservation (Arlyssa Becenti, "2017 budget includes amber alert funds," Navajo Times, September 15, 2016).
Voters in each council district on the Navajo Nation will have to vote on whether to approve projects to improve up to 20 miles of unpaved roads in their districts in 2017. The Navajo Nation Department of Transportation will also have to approve each project (Arlyssa Becenti, "Public will have chance to vote on road improvements," Navajo Times, December 15, 2016).
The hotly contested U.S. presidential election helped raise turn out on the Navajo Reservation in the November 2016 voting, including for chapter officers and school board members, to 49.71 percent of eligible voters. Usually, it is the tribal races that help bring out Din voters for off reservation races (Bill Donovan, "Navajos turn out in droves for election," Navajo Times, November 10, 2016).
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye vetoed council legislation that would have authorized a referendum on combining the Navajo Nation's 110 chapters into 24 regions, coterminous with the 24 Navajo council districts, August 19, 2016 (Arlyssa Becenti, "President vetoes regionalization referendum," Navajo Times, August 25, 2016). The Din Policy Institute (DPI) report on the regionalization proposal is summarized below.
Educating Navajo chapter officers to function and handle funding properly remains a problem in the effort to decentralize some decision making from the nation to the chapters. It is alleged that the Alamo chapter did not properly carry out all of the required finance related paperwork and record keeping in the 2015-16 budget year and, as a result, December 2016, the Navajo Nation Budget and Finance Committee was considering a measure that could cut the chapter's budget by 20 percent (Colleen Keane, "Alamo Chapter faces potential sanctions for alleged mismanagement of funds," Navajo Times, December 8, 2016).
Navajo Nation was awarded over $16 million by EPA, in November 2016, for environmental programs, drinking and waste water infrastructure development, and environmental education (Krista Allen, "Nation gets more than $16 for water quality projects," Navajo Times, November 10, 2016).
Dig Deep raised over $40,000 from 350 national donations in a day, to fund 19 Navajo families receiving  running water and solar power in isolated areas (Terry Bowman, "Donors dug deep," Navajo Times, December 8, 2016).
Navajo Nation has established a sex offender web site listing where sex offenders on the Navajo Nation, whose registration is required, live, work, and go to school on the reservation (Terry Bowman, "Nation now has sex offender website," Navajo Times, October 20, 2016).
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed into law the Navajo Nation Land Acquisition Act, in August 2016, which simplifies the previous process, allowing the nation to more quickly buy and sell land ("President Begaye and Vice President Nez sign Navajo Nation Land Acquisition Act," Navajo Times, August 18, 2016).
The Navajo Nation Housing Authority opened a complex of 49 new houses in the Rama Chapter, August 10, 2016 (Christopher S. Pineo, "Navajo Housing Authority opens new housing complex," Navajo Times, August 18, 2016).
The Din College, Din Policy Institute (DPI) after a summit on research, "Siihasin Summit: Reflecting on Data Management in the Navajo Nation," June 23, 2016, called for Navajo Nation to become "data sovereign" and and change the format in which it disseminates its research data. Currently there are a wide number of research collections relating to Navajo Nation that may be difficult for people not expert at research to locate. At the same time there is a great deal of research that is sensitive, and it is proposed that the Nation act to protect it. One speaker at the summit noted that the the Navajo Nation library collections include oral histories, including on sacred ceremonies. He proposed that it would be valuable to have this material digitally recorded to preserve it, and make it more accessible, which would cost about $200,000. But as this includes a good deal of of sensitive material, he hoped the Nation would undertake the project, so that it could have controls on the material to restrict it to appropriate access. If the project were funded by the federal government, or by any of a good many private granters, there would have to be open access (Arlyssa Becenti, "DPI: Navajo must control its own data," Navajo Times, July 2, 2016).

      The Din College, Din Policy Institute (DPI) made public a report critiquing the proposed move of Navajo local government from chapter government to regional government ("regionalization") - from 110 chapters to 24 regions. The following are excerpts from the report by Andrew Curley, M.S., and Michael Parrish, B.A., "Local governance and reform: a conceptual critique of regionalization and the Title 26 Taskforce," May 2016, http://www.dinecollege.edu/institutes/DPI/Docs/DPI_v2LocalGovernance_Title26.pdf.
" I. Intro
Since before the Navajo Nation tribal system was put into place in 1937, Navajo people have relied on local authority to determine our own affairs. Reliance on local authority is not just a political ideal, but also a cultural staple. For 96 years we have had chapter houses. They are a part of how we think about government today. But they are failing. Many in our community have left the reservation and work in cities far from the reservations. This is a larger systemic problem. In many ways these people are economic refugees, unable to find meaningful work in the reservation. The Local Governance Act (LGA) was legislation designed to reverse the decline of local governance and empower communities to make their own decisions. But it is failing. LGA has been poorly implemented since its passage in 1998. Not nearly enough chapters have gained "chapter certification" and even those that are certified struggle to manage their own affairs. Many of the problems that chapter houses face are rooted in the conduct of the central tribal government and not the chapter houses themselves. The fact that land title is so unclear creates a huge problem for local communities. But some problems are found in the governance of chapters, including corruption and infighting, in a word, politics. We should not pretend that these problems would instantly be solved through regionalization. 1 It is the stuff of the "local" and deeply rooted in the community.
We can work on areas where the central government might allow for more meaningful local control. In the end we find the proposed regionalization elusive in meaning and too dramatic of a change without justification. Our surveys among random Navajo people show most people do not understand it and oppose it. What we might do instead is consider how different types of chapters can have different kinds of authorities redistributed to them based on their unique characteristics. We already have an example of this in the Kayenta Township model and many of its features can be replicated in areas with large populations and many small businesses, large communities with a sales tax base in other words. For the rest of the Navajo Nation, we should think about land reform before we initiative widespread regionalization. Few of the goals of regionalization can be accomplished if land remains stagnant and with contested or unclear boundaries. Considering the successes and failures of Title 26 is important. But let us not adopt poorly considered reforms. This report is a preliminary analysis and critique of regionalization as it has been proposed and presented to the Navajo people."
" IV. Regionalization: a critique
It is hard to properly critique the regionalization proposal as it is still lacking critical details. But from all available information there is a general idea of concentrating the work and authorities of Chapter Houses into regional centers. How this is supposed to be accomplished is left vague. There are no concrete plans of where the regional centers will be located, how they will be staffed, what will be the central government’s authority over them vis-à-vis the authority of local governments, etc. Nevertheless, the Diń Policy Institute (DPI) intends to consider the proposal in earnest. Here we speculate (again, lacking critical details) about the plan’s potential benefits and shortfalls.
1. Utilities-of-scale
The main benefit of the regionalization effort is the scale at which the tribe can allocate resources intended for tribal residences. As tribal residences receive access to resources from the Navajo Nation through their chapter and agency affiliation, any change in the chapter system will inevitably impact all residences and the allocation of all tribal services (e.g., scholarships, power lines, bathroom extensions, water lines, road grading, electrical wiring for the house, etc.). Members of the Title 26 Taskforce argue that regionalization will improve these services in that it will concentrate more monies into regional centers allowing these regional centers to hire better qualified peoples with professional and technical training.
2. Coherence in policy implementation
In concentrating resources in regional centers instead of chapter houses, there will be better coherence in the implementation of tribal policy. At present, the only policy the Title 26 Taskforce has identified is land-use policy (i.e., regional land planning.) The Navajo Nation will only coordinate with 22 regional governments instead of 110 sub-political units. In theory, this will improve the coordination of development and planning between regional centers and Window Rock.
3. Regional Foci
Regionalization allows for something unprecedented in recent Navajo history, the possibility for coordinated regional planning. To be clear, a region is a larger geographical area than a chapter house and includes diversity of peoples, resources, and issues. In practice there are regional governments in the agency councils comprised of elected chapter house officials and council delegates. But these agency councils lack any real political authority in Window Rock and are only used for board nominations and supporting or opposing resolutions of the Navajo Nation Council. Regionalization distributes real political and legal power to regional governing authorities, i.e., regional centers that in turn use this authority for real policy and development projects that reflect the unique conditions of their region. For example, a regional unit near Kayenta might build upon the existing taxing authority of the Kayenta Township and expand taxes onto large industries like Peabody Coal. With regionalization, projects that involve large amounts of land can be better coordinated. Areas that are good for wind power or solar power development might avoid the type of conflicts between local and national authority that killed the proposed Cameron wind power initiative for example. Different regions might be identified for very kinds of development across the reservation.
4. Balancing large and small communities
Regionalization will allow for a regional center to distribute the wealth of a region more evenly across communities. Currently, the LGA allows for all taxed revenues to stay at the local chapter. This has the potential of creating disparities between large communities and smaller communities, or communities located in areas with a lot of business development such as Tuba City, Kayenta, Dilkon, Chinle, Shiprock, Window Rock, and Crownpoint and smaller, more isolated communities. Currently the Navajo Nation distributes funds to chapters based on a standard dollar amount that is equal for all chapters and a second allocation of monies based on the chapter house’s size. Regionalization has the potential to more equitably distribute these monies across a region, alleviating differences between poorer and richer, larger and smaller chapters. For example, in one proposed region, St. Michael’s tax base and resources would be better allocated with smaller chapters such as neighboring Oak Springs.
1. Lack of planning
The lack of a clear set of recommendations for the Navajo people to consider with an issue this important is disappointing in 2016 when we have many capable and qualified Navajo people who can put together a clear and coherent recommendations. We do not know specifically how the Title 26 Task Force plans on removing the authority of chapter house governments and placing them in regional centers, what these regional centers will look like, and how soon they will be staffed once they are created. After 18 years of LGA, we need a clearer vision of how this transition will be implemented.
2. Loss of democracy
Regionalization will result in the loss of local democracy. In the elimination of chapter officials for one at-large representative, community members will lose the chapter meeting as a forum to discuss and decide on local affairs. Although imperfect, chapter house meetings are a cultural staple of the Navajo political process and one that cannot be replaced in technocratic governance represented in the regional centers. It is a species of politics unique to the Navajo Nation. Even the reforms in Title 26, the recommended "Council of Nahata" in which community meetings are replaced with elected councils, is regularly criticized.
3. Limited access
Aside from the lack of political access, the new regional centers will make it more difficult for community members to access tribal resources. They will have to travel many more miles to fill-out paperwork, attend meetings, or pick-up benefits and resources. This problem will become more acute during periods of bad weather when roads are more difficult to transverse. There is also an inequity in geography in regionalization. Communities who house regional centers nearby will have easier and more frequent interactions with their government than more remote communities. This may impact the political priorities of districts.
4. No plan for chapter house facilities
This repeats the lack of planning in the proposed regionalization, but there is nothing published about what happens to chapter houses after regionalization. How does this local infrastructure continue to play a role in Navajo social and political life? When asked about this, advocates of regionalization claim that the chapter houses will still exist and function, but something akin to a community center rather than site of politics. How will funds continue to be allocated to keep these facilities operating after Title 26 is repealed? Will there be an administrative staff in these chapter houses, or will these positions disappear? In a worse case scenario, these chapter house buildings will remain unused and fall apart.
On power point slides and in official presentations, members of the Title 26 Taskforce will emphasize: a) a community’s expanded tax base, the regionalization of budgets, improve delivery of services, regional land use planning, regional infrastructure projects, and a reduction in the misuse of funds. But without clear details and plans on how land reform and taxing will be done, this is at best wishful thinking. It is a "if you build it they will come" understanding of government reform that offsets critical issues, such as the status of the land and local powers to tax, for some future decision makers to decide upon. The problem with this approach is unless you actually offer solutions to these issues little will change. Without land reform or a clear understanding of what local authorities are, we cannot honestly claim any of the benefits of regionalization that the Title 26 Taskforce has promoted."
" VII. Conclusion
The issue of local authority for communities in the Navajo Nation is of special importance moving into the 21st Century. Change is needed. The Title 26 Taskforce has shown that the Local Governance Act has not worked out as it was intended. They show that in its 18-year history, only 43 chapters have successfully become "certified" chapters. But rather than look at the law, the Title 26 Taskforce broadened the question to consider the culture of chapter governance, demographics, and regional planning. These in themselves are exciting topics of conversation, but do not relate directly to the question of "why is Title 26 not working" based on the simple observation that only 43 out of 110 chapters are certified. But if we put the issue another way, we can say, 40% of Navajo chapter houses operate successfully under Title 26 and these proposed reforms would upend that system.
What would work is a sensible investigation of the Navajo Nation Chapter House system. We need more research to identify the problems, including in-depth interviews with chapter house employees, community members, and elected officials. This report examined the work and proposals, as we understand them, of the Title 26 Taskforce and pointed out possible benefits and shortcomings of the proposed reform. We also surveyed a total of 110 members of the Navajo Nation and asked them how much they knew about the proposed Title 26 reforms and whether or not they supported these changes. Our research showed unambiguously that most people are not aware of the research and that they generally disagree with regionalization. This does not mean it is a bad idea in itself, but at this point in time most people are opposed to it. Although our sample was limited, we believe that our respondent’s represented a general attitude that would be found across the Navajo Nation.
In the end we recommended the expansion of the Kayenta Township model as an immediate policy solution for larger Navajo communities such as Chinle, Shiprock, Ft. Defiance, Crownpoint, etc. We see that the township model has over thirty years of practice and has effectively decentralized important authorities to the local community while protecting the larger Navajo Nation’s responsibility of oversight. In Table 1 we identified core differences between the three different models for "local governance," the township model to the proposed regionalization. Second, more research has to be done on land reform in the Navajo Nation before any meaningful action on local governance can be implemented. This is research the Diń Policy Institute has already initiated in order to gain more meaningful insight into how both our local and national governments can be reformed to better serve the Navajo people."
End Note:
"1 'Regionalization' is the central proposal to emerge from the Title 26 Taskforce, and ad hoc organization among members of different entities in the tribal government, such as the Navajo Nation Land Department and the Office of Navajo Government Development. Their central task is to critically examine the Local Governance Act of 1998 (LGA) and offer recommendations to improve its effectiveness. "
" Work Cited:
Administrator. (2014, January 23). Kayenta Township. Retrieved from Kayenta Township: http://kayentatownship-nsn.gov/Home/index.php/kayenta-animal-care-center/2- uncategorized
Hetherington, Kregg. 2011. Guerrilla auditors: the politics of transparency in neoliberal Paraguay (Duke University Press).
Iverson, Peter, and Monty Roessel. 2002. Diń : a history of the Navajos (University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque).
Lee, Lloyd L., and Gregory Cajete. 2014. Diń perspectives : revitalizing and reclaiming Navajo thought.
Powell, Dana E, and Andrew Curley. 2008. 'K’e, Hozhó, and non-governmental politics on the Navajo Nation: Ontologies of difference manifest in Environmental Activism', Anthropological Quarterly, 81: 17-58.
Wilkins, David E. 2013. The Navajo political experience.
Yazzie, Robert, Moroni Benally, Andrew Curley. 2008. 'Navajo Nation Constitutional
Feasibility and Government Reform Project'.
Young, Robert W. 1978. A political history of the Navajo tribe (Navajo Community College
Press). "
The Complete Report is available at: http://www.dinecollege.edu/institutes/DPI/Docs/DPI_v2LocalGovernance_Title26.pdf.

     The Din Policy Institute (DPI) issued a related report, in September 2016, " Local governance and reform: considering 20 years of the Local Governance Act," http://www.dinecollege.edu/institutes/DPI/Docs/2016-09%20LGA2FinalPDF.pdf.
The analysis and conclusions are as follows:
" 5. Discussion
Development" is a central goal of the tribal government today. This is understood as creating jobs and business in the reservation that would lift most of our communities out of poverty. As we learned in our archival research, the Local Governance Act of 1998 (LGA) passed with the idea of creating the political conditions for business development in the local community. As we wrote in our last report on regionalization, this law was part of a larger milieu of government reforms during the 1990s and early 2000s that neoliberalized tribal governance and engendered an auditing culture in how we spend money in the reservation (Curley and Parrish 2016 ).
But our research has identified structural flaws in the LGA. It does not adequately reform the 164-process for local communities. Without improving how the central government distributes power downward, any reform will likely replicate the same problems. The proposed 'regionalization' (proposal a generous description ) does not identify how it would improve the 164-process for local governing authorities. Rather, the referendum language that is floated through the Navajo Nation Council simply gives the Navajo Nation Council a mandate to eliminate chapter house governments and replace them with regional centers. If the 164-process is not currently part of the conversation, how will we guarantee it will be addressed in the future? A proposal giving the Navajo Nation authority to remedy the problem is both redundant and distracting. Rather than talk about the problems inherent in how are laws are set up concerning local governments, we are talking about a referendum about whether or not to give the council authority to fix unidentified problems in local governance, authority that the Navajo Nation Council already has but apparently is unsure to use.
We also identified a problem with human capital in local governance, or the skill sets, commitment, and institutional knowledge employees bring to the community. The FMS is highly technical and cumbersome. The 164-process and hiring rules and regulations by the Department of Personnel Management is also a particular knowledge set Community Service Coordinators, elected officials, and Account Maintenance Specialists should know. With low pay, demanding work environments, and regular scrutiny, it is hard for communities to maintain qualified people in these positions. This is another rational for regionalization. It is argued that regional centers will improve the administration of local governance by raising salaries and removing employees from direct community oversight. This effect is likely in our estimation. But it will increase the costs of local government, make it less accountable to the community, and ultimately diminish local democracy by centralizing local authority into regional centers.
But we found that some chapter governments had circumvented Navajo Nation law to create manageable organizations to carry out projects and proposals of the community. These alternative organizations are not-for- profits and many chapter governments currently use them. Not-for-profits have limitations, but it proves that some communities are more comfortable with the laws that administer not-for-profits than the ones that oversee chapter governments. It is not hard to imagine the appeal. With not-for-profits, you are given the burden of doubt to organize and spend money lawfully without three months of auditing before you could exercise the powers of a not-for-profit. But not-for-profits are not guaranteed a source of money as chapter house are, and the reason for the extensive auditing has to do with the amount of money at stake in distributing power to the local communities. But we know from experience that the LGA auditing structure is cumbersome and now heavily criticized. We can amend these laws and address the concerns of the central government and the local governments without eliminating the chapter house system entirely.
Our surveys found that most chapter officials and administrators are women. Government reform since 1990 is patriarchal, done by men and benefiting men in the reservation. Since council reduction in 2009, the number of women delegates has declined from a few to a single female delegate on the entire council over the past eight years. Regionalization might have the same impact on women’s participation in Navajo governance. Our randomized surveys found that nearly 80% of elected and non-elected chapter officials and administrators are women. Regional centers might proportionally hire as many women per the positions available, but the total number of positions available will inevitably decline and many women leaders in our communities will no longer have a formal role in Navajo politics.
Additionally, chapter house work is a form of work in the reservation. Women have fewer choices in skilled labor than men. Coalmines, construction, and agricultural – the development priorities of the Navajo Nation – have become the purview of the Navajo male workforce. Women are often encouraged to work in the service economy, such as gas stations and food centers, or in education as teachers and administrators. Chapter governance is a good source of work for skilled women leaders who live in the community and are trying to improve it.
We also found that most of the chapter labor force has some college education. This shows that chapter government and management is more educated than we sometimes assume. It is also part of a larger trend of Navajo people becoming more educated. Indigenous women are more likely to obtain a college degree than men. With woman comprising 80% of chapter governance, it is not surprising that 70% of the chapter workforce has college education. Regionalization might not improve this statistic. We are unsure because we do not have a proposal we can look at that outlined the kind of positions and qualifications that regional centers will offer. In any event, there is nothing preventing the Navajo Nation Council from amending Title 26 to address the qualifications of chapter managers and officials. You do not need a regional center to discuss the qualifications of local leaders and administrators. Instead, we are told that we need to pass a referendum giving the Navajo Nation Council permission to eliminate chapter houses in order to talk about what kind of positions we want in the local community to oversee the distribution of money and resources.
Finally, we found that the central priority of chapter officials is economic development. As stated earlier, this is understandable. Communities are no longer reliant on subsistent agriculture and livestock. We are incorporated into a cash economy. We need sources of jobs and revenues. Communities are feeling the pinch of poverty. But underdevelopment might not be something chapter house governments can control. We know from the history of chapter houses that they were started as agricultural cooperatives and meant to assist an entirely different kind of economy in the reservation. Perhaps intuitively the Title 26 Taskforce has a point. Maybe the sense is that chapter houses are outdated. This might be why Title 26 was passed in the first place, to transform the role of chapter houses from community governing structures over land and livestock to business development. More research needs to be done on the local impacts on development Title 26 has impacted. But we know the certification process is cumbersome and frustrating. And communities do not feel that the current laws empower them enough. It is for these reasons we offer the following recommendations.
6. Recommendations
In these areas, the relationship between the chapter house and the Navajo Nation central government might be improved. Amartya Sen made a distinction between economic growth and development (Wilber 1988). The Navajo Nation’s pursuit of economic development focused heavily on business development and the means of creating jobs, increasing income, and bringing in revenue. But for Sen’s Conception, development should be about building the capacity of individuals within the economy. Navajo economic development’s end goal would be to increase the capacity of the individuals within the tribe.
Yet, business growth was the focus of the Navajo Nation’s economic development agenda, this overshadowed other necessary steps for development. The core of LGA was to increase political authority of chapter house governments. But the LGA certification process is long and tedious which hinders chapter houses from developing their political authority; only 45 chapters are certified out of 110. This shows that LGA does not fit with the current capacity of tribal governments although this capacity is always increasing. It is not a failure of chapter house officials and administrators to implement LGA, but a failure in the design of the law. Rather than work with the law, our elected lawmakers propose a referendum on eliminating chapter house governments entirely with consequences and problems they refuse to even consider at this time.
Rather than propose eliminating chapter houses entirely, the Navajo Nation should do the following:   1 ) Lawmakers should amend the SAS-164 process or rework the law entirely to allow chapter house governments the same kind of local spending and fundraising authorities the state and federal governments allow them in not-for-profit organizations. It is contradictory to say chapter governments have the power to enter into contracts with outside organizations yet still require them to get approval from a cascade of bureaucratic oversight in Window Rock. 2) The hiring of Community Service Coordinators (CSCs) should be delegated to chapter house leadership. CSCs should be treated as political appointees and not subject to the review process of the Department of Personal Management. This would allow chapters to have more control over who they hire and fire in these positions. It would also tie the CSCs oversight directly to the chapter for which they work and not Window Rock. 3) The Division of Community Development should provide specialize support toward LGA-certified chapters to help them develop ordinances related to tax and business site leasing that conform to Navajo Nation laws.
LGA was suppose to empower local communities but it focused too narrowly on laws relating to business development and failed to consider how Navajo Nation institutions might help to build the of chapter houses as each community negotiates a transition from a livestock based economy to a wage- labor one. Chapter houses provide a closer reflection of traditional forms of Navajo governance based in the local, but they are also venerable to complete subordination to the central government or to serve as a beachhead for the neoliberalization of the Navajo Nation economy.
Increased powers means increased responsibility. For this reason the Navajo Nation central government has been fearful of chapters. They fear corruption, mismanagement, or poor decision making that puts the entire Navajo Nation at risk at the site of the local. But all of these problems and more exist in the power of the central government and yet we do not call for more federal oversight. At core, we cannot reform laws enough to get the results we want. We need commitment and dedication from people on the ground and in the central government. At the end of the day our institutions are comprised of members of a small, tightly woven community. We might be from different parts of the reservation, but we are tied to the entirety of the land. Capacity building is key. We need to invest in ourselves, not rearrange deck chairs on a ship that is off course. 4) The Navajo people needs to reject all proposed referendums that give the power of government reform to a few actors in Window Rock, i.e., 'regionalization.'"
The executive summary of the report (http://www.dinecollege.edu/institutes/DPI/Docs/2016-09%20LGA_FINAL.pdf) stated:
" Local Governance Act was meant to empower chapterhouse governments with legal authority to pursue business development. 20 years later, we have found that chapter houses are not thriving as well as the progenitors thought; only 45 of 110 are certified. With the proposal of regionalization, Din Policy Institute researched Title 26 to better understand the reality of chapter house governance.
Our findings suggest that chapter houses need support with reaching and after obtaining certification. Certain rules and procedures need to be reworked to provide support chapters in achieving community goals.
Our findings show that a large amount of chapter officials are female. Regionalization will affect the number of female workers by limiting the number of workers in governance. Contrary to popular belief, education ranges among chapter officials. The surveys reveal the list of priorities within chapters with "economic development" leading the priority list that lends more support to the true foundation of Title 26.
Our recommendations stem from our findings. Reworking laws to accommodate chapters is pertinent for development and achieving community goals. Navajo lawmakers need to support chapters by accommodating chapters in the development of their capacities.
Gender of chapter officials: 76% are female and 24% are male.
Education of Chapter Officials: 4%NA, 26% high school Education, 26% A.A./A.S., 22% B.A./B.S., 22% M.A/ M.S, and 0% Ph.C. /Ph.D.
'Economic development' is listed as the community’s top priority followed by 'more housing', 'improved land use planning', 'improved farming', and 'improved chapter management'.
Signature-Approval-System (SAS-164)
- Both non-certified and certified chapters are required to obtain approval from overseeing departments. This process might discourage chapter officials from applying for external funds for local projects.
Human Capital
- Several chapters lack a Community Service
Coordinators (CSC) with Account Maintenance
Specialists (AMS) doing the work of CSCs.
- Workforce is temporary.
- Chapters do not have powers to hire their workers; that is left to the Department of Personal Management (DPM).
Not-for-Profit Method
- Some chapters create a not-for-profit to achieve community goals. These non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) are quicker than the tribal
government with its central management.
- Chapter officials believe that proper decentralization of administrative authority, spending and hiring authorities, and land-use planning will help them accomplish more.
Lawmakers should amend the SAS-164 processor rework the law entirely to allow chapter governments the same kind of local spending and fundraising authorities the state and federal governments allow them in not-for-profit organization.
The hiring of Community Service Coordinators (CSCs) should be delegated to chapter house leadership. CSCs should be treated as political appointees and not subject to the review process of the Department of Personal Management.
The Division of Community Development should specialize support toward LGA-certified chapters to help them develop ordinances related to tax and business site leasing that conform to Navajo Nation laws.
The Navajo people needs to reject all proposed referendums that give the power of government reform to a few actors in Window Rock, i.e., 'regionalization'".

      David Rooks, "‘World’s Largest Biker Bar’ Puts Sin City at Base of Bear Butte," ICTMN, June 23, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/worlds-largest-biker-bar-puts-sin-city-at-base-of-bear-butte/, " Tribal leaders fear that Bear Butte, one of the seven traditional sacred sites of Northern Plains tribes in or near the Black Hills, is in serious danger of further moral and environmental degradation after a local planning board recommended that Meade County commissioners grant full approval for construction of the 'world’s biggest biker bar' on a campground practically at the base of the butte." The butte is used regularly for vision quests and sweat lodges, and the noise from the bar would be disruptive of ceremonies.

        The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma opened the Choctaw Wellness Center, November 3, 2016. The 9,700-square-foot structure includes a half-court basketball gym, an indoor walking track, and 2,500 square feet of space housing top-of-the-line cardio and strength-training machines. It will offer a variety of fitness classes, trained staff will assist members with free personal training, nutrition programs, and fitness assessment. The wellness center is one of more than 40 building projects the nation had in progress across southwest Oklahoma ("Choctaw Nation Invests in Tribal Health, Cuts Ribbon to Wellness Center," ICMN, November 4, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/choctaw-nation-invests-in-tribal-health-cuts-ribbon-to-wellness-center/).

       Steve Russell, "Indian Country’s Okie Bridges Falling Down?" August 5, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/indian-countrys-okie-bridges-falling-down/, reported, "The CBS Television Affiliate in Tulsa, KOTV Channel Six, has posted online an Oklahoma Bridge Tracker . The purpose of the tool is to identify bridges that might pose a danger to the public so that people can avoid them when possible and demand that politicians get them fixed when that is possible.
The Webber Falls bridge collapse in 2002 was a traumatic disaster for the Cherokee, Choctaw and Creek Nations because it set a long rescue and then recovery effort in motion right on our borders and involving some of our citizens in the response."
"This nervousness is not irrational when some 10 percent of all bridges in the U.S.—about 60,000, give or take—are in urgent need of repair. Naturally, I could not resist taking a look at the bridges around my former home in the Creek Nation, having played in Sand Creek and the Deep Fork River without any cars falling on me.
The bridges are rated on a scale of 0 (be very afraid) to 100 (relax). My fast and dirty results were faster and dirtier than I anticipated:
— S.H. 66 over Sand Creek, rating 19, structurally deficient.
— S.H. 16 over Sand Creek, rating 54.3, functionally obsolete.
— S.H. 16 over Skull Creek, rating 17.7, structurally deficient.
— S.H. 16 over the Turner Turnpike, rating 64.4, functionally obsolete.
— S.H. 48 over Little Deep Fork Creek, rating 93.4, Non-Deficient."

        "Nine Former Winnebago Tribal Council Members Indicted," ICMN Staff, August 7, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/nine-former-winnebago-tribal-council-members-indicted/, reported, " Former Winnebago Tribal Chairman John Blackhawk and eight other former tribal council members were indicted by a federal grand jury on July 19.
Blackhawk, Darwin Snyder, Thomas Snowball Jr., Louis Houghton, Lawrence Payer, Travis Mallory, Charles Aldrich, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe were charged with conspiracy, theft and misapplication of funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment, and wire fraud according to a press release on July 20 from Deborah R. Gilg, U.S. attorney for the District of Nebraska."
A number of reports to Stephen Sachs, in the fall of 2016, from people who spent time at the DAPL protests at Standing Rock concurred that the camp was run according to traditional values, with respect and mutual support for all who were there on an equal basis. Orientation on those values and proper behavior, including the peaceful and prayerful nature of the protests, was provided to all who came. Those who seriously violated the ways of the camp were asked to leave.
A particularly interesting sharing received by E-mail, passed on a report from Katrina Coravos, who reported from Standing Rock the day before the Equinox, "Something powerful happened this weekend... Red Cloud came to camp with a pipe handed to him from his Grandfather (also named Red Cloud). It was packed with tobacco and prayer on the day the treaty was signed Between the 1st Nations and the Government.... He was asked to smoke it when the time was right. He felt the call, and came to this pivotal moment where Unification is happening."
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, came with the pipe of the White Buffalo Calf of the Lakota Nation. "Together, they smoked these two pipes. This is a powerful moment. This is the unity of the masculine and feminine.  This is prophecy fulfilled.
They entered the council lodge and invited in the Grandmothers, women, and media... This is an amazing step in unifying our voices, and moving from a place of wisdom. Our prayers are powerful. What is happening here has left me in awe and hope.
To participate in this moment is a gift, and I am so grateful... A prophecy was fulfilled,...
The Grandmothers are taking their rightful place at the center of council. Our world is changing.
Standing Rock is an example of the world we want to see together: Where prayer is at the center of all we do, Where the elders are honored, where spirit is revered, where sacredness is held in importance.
Even amidst some wobbles and bumps, this has been one of the most beautiful moments I have been a part of. Deep gratitude to spirit for guiding all of us together, All colors of the medicine wheel, all nations.
The mending has begun...

        Isleta Pueblo Governor Paul Tores was among those giving invocations on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, in July 2016 (Michael Coleman, "Isleta governor gives blessing at convention, Albuquerque Journal, July 29, 2016).
Nevada Urban Indians, Inc., provides Indian healthcare and community services, in Reno, NV, including victims services, mental health care, and substance abuse programs. For more information visit: www.nevadurbanindians.org.

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Economic Developments

     "Travois Gets $50M in New Tax Credits for Indian Country Development Projects," ICMN, November 28, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/travois-gets-50m-in-new-tax-credits-for-indian-country-development-projects/, " Millions in private investor funds will be directed to Indian country development projects, thanks to the U.S. Department of the Treasury allocating $50 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) to Travois New Markets, a nationally certified Community Development Entity (CDE). Since its formation in 1995, the Kansas City, Missouri-based CDE has helped bring over $1 billion of investment to Indian country.
The Treasury released a total of $7 billion of tax credit awards last week."
"Travois New Markets is part of the Travois family of companies that raises private investor capital for housing and economic development projects benefiting American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. In this round, it is the only national CDE that received an NMTC allocation that will dedicate it solely to serving Native communities. Travois was one of 120 organizations around the country to receive an award, and one of two awarded CDEs based in Kansas City.
New Markets Tax Credits are allocated by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), a division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, to qualified CDEs. CDEs are private companies that finance economic development projects in low income communities."

     "National Center Pursues Partnerships With Indian Organizations to Further Tribal Interests," ICMN, November 16, 2016, reported, "The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development is actively reaching out to other Native organizations to bolster their outreach to Indian country.
'We are making a concerted effort to reach out to national organizations to start working with them, so that together, we can bring a stronger voice and a stronger force to be able to help business and economic development in Indian country," Patricia (Pat) Parker, vice chairwoman of the National Center board, told ICTMN.
Most recently, the National Center and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) collaborated to promote tribal tourism and the opportunity for tribes to share their own unique stories."
"'Besides AIANTA, we’re reaching out to the National Indian Gaming Association (we have Ernie [Stevens, Jr., NIGA president] on our board), the Native American Contractors Association, the Native American Financial Officers Association, the National Congress for American Indians…. We really want to start working together and seeing how we can improve what we can provide Indian country together,' she emphasized.
Last year [2015], the National Center formalized its partnership with NIGA by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance each organization’s broader goals: fostering economic development opportunities, as well as workforce development initiatives and training programs for Tribes, Tribal enterprises and American Indian entrepreneurs. Parker anticipates more joint efforts in the National Center’s future."

       Although a great deal of work by several organizations and many tribes has been underway for some years to increase tribal member financial literacy, a study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the 2015 National Financial Capability Study, found that Native Americans were less confident about their financial knowledge and are less likely to score well on a money related quiz than any other racial group. The research underscores the need for more Native financial education ("Study: Natives need more financial education," Navajo Times, July 24, 2016).

      Mark Fogarty, "Phoenix Beat NYC, LA in Mortgages to Indians Last Year," ICTMN, September 7, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/phoenix-beat-nyc-la-in-mortgages-to-indians-last-year/, reported, "According to an early look at 2015 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, it is the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA, not NYC or LA, that had the most mortgages to Indians last year.
The 322 loans made to American Indians/Alaska Natives in the Phoenix area was nearly four percent of the nearly 8,400 2015 mortgages tabulated as of September 5. Los Angeles came in eighth, with 139 loans. New York was even lower, ranking 17th, with just 88 mortgages.
Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Houston Riverside, California and Sacramento are also ahead of Los Angeles in the 2015 rankings."
"The findings should be taken as provisional, since not all lenders have reported their HMDA data to ComplianceTech."
"Another factor that would affect the findings is the fact that for nearly 20 percent of all the Indian mortgages, the MSAs were not disclosed."
But looking at 2014 for comparison, L.A. ranked seventh, with much-smaller Tulsa outstripping it, with 1,359 mortgages to Indians, 6.9 percent of all Indian loans and more than five times the L.A. MSA volume of 269. New York ranked 15.
Tulsa’s 2014 showing is no doubt because mortgages are much more affordable in the Oklahoma city than in pricey New York or L.A. But Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa is a much closer match to them. In 2013 ICTMN found New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix as the cities with the biggest indigenous populations.
Similarly, the Census Bureau found Phoenix with 32,000 Indians as of 2010 had more Natives than Los Angeles (28,000) but was still well behind New York (58,000).
Mortgages made to Native Hawaiians in 2015 so far match expectations, as the Honolulu and Los Angeles markets ranked first and second as of September 5 with more than 1,000 of the 8,200 loans originated for Native Hawaiians (whose category also includes Natives of other American-controlled Pacific islands such as Guam and American Samoa)."

      Mark Fogarty, "Quicken Loans Now Top Mortgage Lender to Indians," ICTMN, August 20, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/quicken-loans-now-top-mortgage-lender-to-indians/, reported that Quicken Loans of Michigan became the largest mortgage lender to American Indians, in 2015, approving more Native home loan requests that it rejected.
"According to an early look at data lenders filed in their 2015 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reports, Quicken has displaced Wells Fargo Bank as the top lender to Native Americans, unless a firm that hasn’t revealed its HMDA data yet comes in higher than the Michigan-based lender’s $283 million in lending.
San Francisco-based Wells slipped to second, with $276 million in 2015. Mid America Mortgage, Addison, Texas, took the bronze, with $152 million."
In 2014, Wells was the leader in Native American mortgages, with Quicken second and Mid America third. Like Quicken, Mid America granted more than half of the Indian mortgages applied for in 2014. Wells granted about 41 percent of its applications.
"Mid America approved 68 percent of Native applications, 826 out of 1,209. Quicken granted 1,514 of 2,309 applications, or 66 percent. At Wells, Indian borrowers found success 1,350 times out of 3,216 applications.
As of August 11, 44 percent of the 19,000 Native American applications reported by Lending Patterns’ Early Look responders had been approved, with 31 percent denied, six percent purchased, 11 percent withdrawn, and six percent incomplete." This is similar to 2014, when 46 percent of applications were approved, and five percent purchased.
"More than half of the 8,388 originated mortgages counted to date were conventional (non-governmental). Loans insured by the government’s Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs showed strong volumes as well, with about 45 percent combined.
Some 80 percent of those American Indian mortgages were sold into the mortgage investor market, with only 20 percent not sold and kept in lender portfolios. Ginnie Mae is the biggest investor of mortgages made to Indians in 2015, at 34 percent. Ginnie Mae buys FHA and VA mortgages, as well as the American Indian mortgage at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the HUD 184.
Fannie Mae is the second largest investor in this niche, at 20 percent. Non-agency investors came in at 16 percent, with Freddie Mac trailing at 12 percent.
Dollar volume through August 11 was $1.7 billion. First mortgages (more than 99 percent of volume) averaged $209,000, while second mortgages came in at $34,000 apiece."
Of the mortgages issued, 50 percent of the funds was applied to purchase homes, while 48 percent was used for refinancing. 55 percent of the mortgage funding went to upper income borrowers, while low income borrowers received five percent of the loan money. In the early reports, two percent of mortgage dollars reported went towards manufactured homes, with almost all of the rest used for single-family homes.

        Mark Fogarty, "Mortgages to California Indians Came to $1.6 Billion in 2015: Wells Fargo led the way lending $164 million in mortgages," ICTMN,  December 28, 2016, "https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/mortgages-california-indians-came-1-6-billion-2015/, reported, " Indians received $1.6 billion in mortgage finance in the Golden State in 2015."
"Three of the top five lenders to California Indians with and without Hispanic ethnicity were banks, while two were non-banks. Wells Fargo Bank, Raleigh, North Carolina was the largest, according to HMDA figures obtained from the Lending Patterns database of ComplianceTech, a fair lending and technology firm in McLean, Virginia. Wells extended $164 million in mortgages, more than 10 percent of the total."

      Mark Fogarty, "Boosting Market Economies on Homelands," ICTMN, September 2, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/boosting-market-economies-on-homelands/, reported, " The Center for Indian Country Development is kicking off a four-pronged strategy to help tribes develop market economies with a conference focusing on homeownership.
Co-director Patrice H. Kunesh said the group, created by the Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, will focus on the issues of Indian land, business alliances, education and homeownership.
The group is co-hosting a conference on mortgage lending in Indian country with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, NeighborWorks, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development September 13-15 in Scottsdale, Arizona. A conference on education will follow October 5 at the Minneapolis Fed.
Kunesh said homeownership is 'an incredible economic driver. We definitely see homeownership as a paradigm in Indian country.'"
" Tribal income gains in recent years mean 'a significant percentage of American Indians can afford to own a home,' she said."
"The mortgage market in general has undergone big changes since the collapse of 2008, with a tightening of underwriting and a thinning out of investors for mortgages. 'This affects Indian country and the rural market as well,' she said.
Kunesh pointed to Native CDFIs (community development financial institutions) and tribal banks like Bay Bank (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin) and Woodlands National Bank (Mille Lacs) as institutions that will have a big role in mortgage lending on tribal homelands.
She also suggested streamlining regs at the myriad federal agencies that have a hand in Indian finance such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development and USDA. 'Could we possibly have a common application?' she wondered. Title search reports (TSRs) are another roadblock in need of streamlining, she said.
The Center has the backing of the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, who personally approved it, Kunesh said. She said the center got its start from Sue Woodrow of the Montana office of the Minneapolis Fed."

     " Live from Indian Country, The NIGC announces largest tribal revenue gain in 10 years: Indian gaming continues to be a strong force for tribal economic development, "Indio, CA, July 19, 2016, reported, "Today the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) released data showing revenues generated by the Indian gaming industry in 2015 totaled $29.9 billion dollars. After six years of modest, but stable growth, the 5% increase in GGR from 2014 is the largest increase in 10 years.
Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause, and Associate Commissioner E. Sequoyah Simermeyer made the announcement from within the homelands of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.
'The strong regulation that tribes as well as federal regulators and other stake holders provides has played a key role in the stability and growth of the Indian gaming industry by providing consistency and predictability.' said the Chairman of the NIGC, Jonodev O. Chaudhuri.
The Commission also noted the role of the many small or moderately sized Indian gaming operations that support rural economic development where little else has. Only 6.5% of operations can show a $250 million dollar or more GGR. The majority of tribes, 57%, generate less than $25 million per year in gross gaming revenue. And 20% of the total 474 tribal gaming operations produce less than $3 million per year.
The Chairman further stated that Indian gaming is fundamentally different than commercial enterprises; it directly provides resources for Indian people including, social services, public works, education, housing, health care, emergency services, public safety and cultural presentation programs that no other economic driver has yet to provide.
The announcement was made from a location that was historically significant to the tribal gaming industry. The Commission highlighted Cabazon’s early efforts to engage in gaming as a modest means of pursuing self-sufficiency and how those efforts ultimately contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of California v. Cabazon, which recognized and reaffirmed the inherent authority of tribal nations to regulate gaming activities within their communities.
'The Indian gaming industry can look back on tremendous growth and advancement. In the 30 years since the Cabazon case was argued before the Supreme Court, Indian gaming has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry annually. This is in no doubt due largely to the innovation, leadership, and positive reputation that Indian Country, in conjunction with the regulatory community, has cultivated since the advent of Indian gaming.' said Chairman Chaudhuri.
   The 2015 GGR was calculated based on 474 independently audited financial statements received by 238 tribes."

        Gross Gaming revenue distribution by Region (From NIGC)


     FY14 Growth

     FY15 Growth










      St. Paul






      Washington, DC



      OK City



2015 Gross Gaming Revenue Trending

2015 NIGC FY15 gross gaming revenue distribution map

"Seminole Tribe Continues Payments to Florida: Despite judge’s ruling, the tribe honors original compact," ICMN, December 9, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/seminole-tribe-continues-payouts-florida/, reported, " The Seminole Tribe has continued to share its gaming revenue with the State of Florida, despite a federal judge ruling in November that the tribe isn’t required to make payments to the state through 2030, the end of the original compact." The tribe's payments to the state for 2016 were projected at $306 million.
"Seminole Tribe Buys Global Hard Rock Brand, Ousts its Chairman, Fights for Gaming Rights," ICMN, October 3, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/seminole-tribe-buys-global-hard-rock-brand-ousts-its-chairman-fights-for-gaming-rights/, reported, "Big changes are underway for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The tribe recently purchased the remaining rights of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino brand, assuming global ownership."
"Eastern Shawnee Breaks Ground on $34M Expansion to Indigo Sky Casino," ICMN,  June 27, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/eastern-shawnee-breaks-ground-on-34m-expansion-to-indigo-sky-casino/, reported, " The Eastern Shawnee Tribe dug shovels into ground for a ceremonial ground breaking on its $34 million expansion on its Indigo Sky Casino in Northeast Oklahoma on Thursday.
The tribe is adding a seven-story, 128-room hotel, plus a 600-seat ballroom event center, as well as other facilities."
"Rincon Band Opens South California’s First Casino Brewery: SR76 Beerworks to produce 3,000 kegs of beer a year," ICMN, December 8, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/rincon-band-opens-south-californias-first-casino-brewery/, reported, " A Southern California tribe [the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians] recently debuted the first brewery and tasting room at a casino in the region. SR76 Beerworks opened last month at Harrah’s Resort near Valley Center, just an hour’s drive north of San Diego."
Lynn Armitage, "Graton Rancheria Combines Glitter, Social Consciousness in $175M Expansion: The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria unveil a $175 million expansion and new hotel at its Graton Resort & Casino, complete with social conscience," ICTMN, December 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/graton-rancheria-combines-glitter-social-consciousness-175m-expansion/, reported, "It happened like clockwork, just as planned. On November 15 the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, California, cut the ribbon on its more than $175 million expansion and finally made the "resort" part of its name official.
"Hollywood Casino Jamul to Open in San Diego on October 10," ICMN, October 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/hollywood-casino-jamul-to-open-in-san-diego-on-october-10/, reported, "Jamul Indian Village and its partner Penn National Gaming, Inc., will open the doors to the tribal casino near San Diego on October 10.
Gov. Jerry Brown approved the tribe’s 25-year gaming compact between California and Jamul Indian Village on August 4, 2016, reported timesofsandiego.com."
"Wyoming Casino Reveals $30M Luxury Hotel," ICMN, October 10, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/wyoming-casino-reveals-30m-luxury-hotel/, reported, " The Eastern Shoshone Tribe recently debuted $30 million worth of upgrades to Shoshone Rose Casino on the Wind River Reservation in Lander, Wyoming. The expansion, aimed at creating an upscale feel, includes a 61-room hotel with an indoor heated pool and hot tub. Just outside the pool area, a fire pit and seating venue overlook the majestic Wind River Mountain Range."
"Laguna Pueblo to Purchase $134.5M Commercial Casino in Louisiana," ICMN, August 23, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/laguna-pueblo-to-purchase-1345m-commercial-casino-in-louisiana/, reported, " The New Mexico-based Laguna Pueblo has entered an agreement to purchase a commercial, riverboat casino in Louisiana.
Kicks Entertainment, LLC, newly formed by Laguna Development Corporation (LDC), the tribe’s economic development arm, plans to purchase the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lake Charles, including its 50,000-square-foot riverboat casino, a 493-room hotel, various food and beverage outlets, covered parking and other amenities, reported Albuquerque Business First ."
The Navajo Nation Council, in July 2016, approved the construction of a $10 million travel center at the Twin Arrows Casino Resort, in Twin Arrows, AZ (Krista Allen, "Council approves $10 million travel center at Twin Arrows," Navajo Times, July 28, 2016).
"Ho-Chunk to Grow Workforce With $153M Casino Expansion," ICMN, August 18, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/ho-chunk-to-grow-workforce-with-153m-casino-expansion/, reported, "Next month the Ho-Chunk Nation is diving into its "Project Forward" — a substantial expansion on its three casinos in Wisconsin.
The three Ho-Chunk Gaming (HCG) casinos—Wisconsin Dells, Black River Falls and Wittenberg — will simultaneously undergo major upgrades.
"Project Forward" includes gaming floor expansions with additional slots, brand new hotels, new restaurants and bars, smoke free gaming areas along with major cosmetic enhancements. As a result of the expansions, 100 new jobs will be created that will add to the existing 3,400 employee Ho-Chunk Nation workforce."

     "Mohegan Sun Anticipates $750M Fee Income From Project Inspire in South Korea," ICMN, December 2, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/mohegan-sun-anticipates-750m-fee-income-from-project-inspire-in-south-korea/, reported, "In March, the South Korean government awarded the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) and its two partners a license to develop Project Inspire adjacent to South Korea’s Incheon International Airport , located 30 miles west of Seoul.
Recently, the tribal gaming arm said it expects to receive around $750 million in fee income from its involvement in the new casino, reported GGRAsia.com."

     "Mille Lacs Band Debuts Daily Fantasy Sports Site," ICMN, September 8, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/mille-lacs-band-debuts-daily-fantasy-sports-site/, reported, "Just as fantasy sports fans are enthusiastically selecting players for their team lineups, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota has officially launched Grand Fantasy Sports."

        Falling gas and oil prices have greatly reduced the revenues of the State of New Mexico, and in turn are reducing the state's spending and grants that assist the tribes in the state. The New Mexico state reserves have fallen from $800 million to $36 million (Bill Donovan, "Sinking oil revenue in N.M. will impact tribes," Navajo Times, July 21, 2016).

     The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) which is developing and providing internet service on the Navajo Nation, finalized an agreement, in June 2016, with the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) and the Department of the Interior giving NTUA greater authority to operate. NUTA gained more financial control of its operation, acquiring the remaining 51 percent of its stock. IEED also approved a $23.5 million loan guarantee, in partnership with Great Western Bank, for NTUA ("Tribe partners with feds to expand wireless services," Navajo Times, June 30, 2016).

        Lynn Armitage, "Hemp: The Next Big Cash Crop for Tribes?" ICTMN, August 30, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/hemp-the-next-big-cash-crop-for-tribes/, reported, " With the passage of the Farm Bill in 2014, industrial hemp now can be grown legally by higher education institutions and state departments of agriculture for research and pilot programs. However, it remains to be seen whether the same rules will apply to tribal nations .
Alex White Plume is banking on that outcome. Recently, the federal government lifted a 12-year injunction, the only one of its kind, on the Oglala Lakota Native related to the cultivation of industrial hemp on his Pine Ridge Reservation property dating back to 2000, which the Feds said violated the Controlled Substances Act. The ruling does not give White Plume permission to grow industrial hemp yet, and he faces more legal hurdles. But it is a step in the right direction."
White Plume, considered the first modern-day Native American hemp farmer in the U.S., believes tribes can make hefty profits growing industrial hemp, a hardy plant from the Cannabis family, not to be confused with marijuana, as it contains less than 1 percent of the psychoactive chemical THC, so it can’t get you high . He says hemp can fetch $197/square acre, compared to $38/square acre for alfalfa, and $18 a square acre for barley.
Every part of the hemp plant has great market value, the seeds, stalks, leaves and hurd (the woody core of the stalk). Traditionally, Natives used hemp to make medicinal salve, fishing nets and clothing. "Our women had some of the nicest threads," says White Plume.
Today, this versatile crop is being used to make many commercial products in the U.S. " For nutrition, the hemp seed contains  Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids that help with brain development and nerve function, and help lower the risk of heart disease. Hemp oil can be taken in capsule form or used directly as are a variety of vegetable oils. Hulled hemp seeds can be eaten as are other seeds and nuts.
Hemp oil’s fatty acids can be used to maintain healthy hair and skin. in lotions, soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreens and lip balm.
Hemp stalks have many uses, including to create fiber, lighter than fiberglass, that is processed into composite material for car door panels, interior parts and car bodies. The woody core or hurd of the plant, when mixed with a lime agent to form Hempcrete, increasingly is being used to build homes that are energy-efficient, low-maintenance, fireproof, earthquake-resistant and impervious to mold, termites and rats.

       The Puyllup nation of Washington State was moving, in August 2016, toward producing medical marijuana. Tribal leaders have agreed on an amended contract, allowing the operation to go ahead, with the Washington Liquor and Canibus Board, and Governor Jay Inslee. Prior to that, the tribe opened a marijuana testing laboratory ("Puyallup pursue medical marijuana growing operation," NFIC, August 2016).

     "Fond du Lac Band Unveils Largest Solar Farm in Minnesota Power Grid," ICMN, August 31, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/fond-du-lac-band-unveils-largest-solar-farm-in-minnesota-power-grid/, reported, "Last week, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa debuted its new solar farm in Minnesota. The 1-megawatt solar array will cut carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 2.6 million pounds annually compared to coal-generated electricity, reported duluthnewstribune.com.
The tribe’s solar farm will power 150 area homes and power about 10 percent of its Black Bear Casino electric needs."

       "Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe to Develop $1.3M Retail Center in Wisconsin," ICMN, August 26, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/stockbridge-munsee-tribe-to-develop-13m-retail-center-in-wisconsin/, " The Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians continues to spur economic growth in North Central Wisconsin. The tribe has announced plans to develop a new retail center in Belle Plaine, outside of Shawano.
The 12,000-square-foot center will cost $1.3 million to built out."

       "Jackson Rancheria Band Buys Local Newspaper," ICMN, November 3, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/jackson-rancheria-band-buys-local-newspaper/, reported, " The first Volcano Weekly Ledger newspapers were printed 161 years ago in a small California mining town. Now the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians has purchased what was later renamed the Amador Ledger Dispatch for $1.2 million. The tribe will merge the weekly newspaper into its newly existing Acorn News , reported the Calaveras Enterprise .
The Sacramento Bee calls the tribe’s move one 'that strengthens the tribe’s influence in the largely rural community while diversifying its own economic base.'"

       "Seminole Tribe Sells Citrus Business," ICMN, November 29, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/seminole-tribe-sells-citrus-business/, reported, "In April 2014, the Seminole Tribe purchased a 60 percent ownership in a major citrus operation. After substantially growing the company, now the tribe and partner William G. Roe & Sons Inc. (the Roe family founded Blue Lake Citrus in 1927) are selling the brand to Miami-based Sun Orchard."

       "Tribal Tech Makes Inc. 5000 for Third Consecutive Year," ICMN, August 30, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/tribal-tech-makes-inc-5000-for-third-consecutive-year/, reported, " Tribal Tech, LLC came in at No. 817 on Inc. magazine’s 2016 ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. This was the third year in a row that Inc. included Tribal Tech, LLC in its annual Inc. 5000."
"Tribal Tech, LLC provides a diverse range of services to Native American tribes, federal agencies, and private businesses. Specialized services include Training and Technical Assistance, Grants Management, and Communications, Outreach and Event Planning."

      The Indian Pueblo Cultural  Center in Albuquerque, owned by New Mexico's 19 pueblos, in October, was moving ahead with a plan to develop retail stores on its 46 acre tract across 12 St, in Albuquerque, from the Cultural Center (Jessica Dyer, "Pueblo corp. goes big on 12th Street plans," Albuquerque Journal, October 8, 2016."

        A list of some of the more successful Native owned businesses is in, Lynn Armitage, "2016 Hot List: Native Businesses," ICTMN, July 25, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/2016-hot-list-native-businesses/.

      Cary Rosenbaum, "Turtle Island Meets the Caribbean: Historic Talks Unite Tribes and Cuba," ICTMN, August 25, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/turtle-island-meets-the-caribbean-historic-talks-unite-tribes-and-cuba/, reported, " In what was billed as Indian country’s first face-to-face with Cuba, a conference sponsored by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) focused on empowering both groups by creating a partnership for culture and economic sharing.
The two delegations exchanged visions and strategies over five days in Havana."

      Sheena Louise Roetman, "‘Total Loss’: Native-Owned Arrowhead Foods Burns Down," ICTNM, July 27, 2016," reported, " Arrowhead Foods, the only Native-owned business in Whiteclay, Nebraska , burned to the ground Monday morning due to a defective chicken broaster."

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Education and Culture

       Tanya H. Lee , "‘Stark Racial Disparities’ Persist in Classrooms," ICTMN, June 17, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/stark-racial-disparities-persist-in-classrooms/, reported, "U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. says data collected by the department’s Office for Civil Rights for the 2013-2014 school year show 'stark racial disparities' in how kids are dealt with in areas such as school suspensions, course offerings and graduation rates, as well as in the treatment of kids with disabilities when compared with other kids.
The office released its ' First Look' at the data on June 7; it represents the experience of more than 50 million students in more than 95,000 schools—virtually every public school in the country.
'In general the data show that students of color, students whose first language is not English and students with disabilities are—according to a number of indicators—not getting the same opportunities to learn as are classmates who are white, whose first language is English or who do not have disabilities,' King said during a press call.
The one bit of good news in the report is that the federal #RethinkDiscipline campaign to increase awareness about the detrimental impacts of exclusionary discipline seems to have had an effect­. Out-of-school suspensions have decreased by nearly 20 percent since the 2011-2012 school year.
The bad news is that this reduction has not affected non-white children or children with disabilities, who are still suspended more frequently than their white, non-disabled peers. American Indian or Alaska Native, Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and multiracial boys represent 15 percent of K-12 students but 19 percent of K-12 students receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions, according to the report."
Overall, the report documents that boys are expelled from school more frequently than girls. This disparity is greater for AIAN children. 'White boys represent 26 percent of all students, but 35 percent of students expelled without educational services. American Indian or Alaska Native boys represent 0.6 percent of all students, but 2 percent of students expelled without educational services." In addition, AIAN and multiracial boys are disproportionately subject to restraint and seclusion.
The 2013-2014 data collection looked into areas not previously assessed, including chronic student absenteeism, which was reported on in " Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools: An unprecedented look at a hidden educational crisis," issued June 10, 2016. It showed that over 3 million high school students were chronically absent, missing 15 or more days of school in 2013-14. Overall, 13.1 percent of all students were chronically absent in that period, but 22.2 percent of American Indian students were chronically absent. For American Indian high school students, 27.5 percent were chronically absent, compared with 17 percent of white students. American Indian students overall have the highest rate of chronic absenteeism of any racial/ethnic group.
Chronic absenteeism is a better indicator of whether students will drop out than are test scores. To counter it, the Education Department has initiated the national program, Every Student, Every Day.
The data began being available on line, in August 2016, including downloadable school and district-level reports, on the Education Department’s website : https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html.

     "NMU Awarded $300K Grant to Increase Native Women in STEM," ICTMN, September 25, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-studies-tribal-colleges/nmu-awarded-300k-grant-to-increase-native-women-in-stem/, reported, " Northern Michigan University has received nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to launch a two-year pilot project designed to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native female college graduates, particularly in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The project will also address the 'lack of American Indian teaching methods within the sciences education curricula.'
Thirty-seven projects nationwide received the first awards presented through NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science). NMU’s Center for Native American Studies and its Office of Diversity and Inclusion will implement the pilot program titled 'Indigenous Women Working within the Sciences.'
The NMU grant will be used to provide the following: training for K-16 STEM educators on American inclusive methods and materials; college preparation opportunities that will allow American Indian and Alaska Native [AI/AN] high school students to expand their experience with inclusive STEM practices; and educational mentors, primarily from the sciences, for AI/AN female students as they transition from high school to college."

      The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has provided a NASA Tribal College and University Experiential Learning Opportunity to Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), in Albuquerque, NM, which has been providing Native students with the simulated experience of what it would be like living and working on Mars. In the course of working with equipment, such as Mars rovers, in the simulated environment, students become involved in additional related math and science courses (Jason Morgan Edwards, "Aiming for the Red Planet," Navajo Times, October 17, 2016).

     "Din College Adds Three New Bachelor’s Programs," ICMN, July 28, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-studies-tribal-colleges/din-college-adds-three-new-bachelors-programs/, reported, "This fall, students attending Din College will have three new bachelor’s programs available to them. The school will offer a Bachelor of Science in biology, a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, with tracks in math and science, and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology."

     "IAIA Moves Forward, Breaks Ground on Performing Arts and Fitness Center," ICMN,  November 15, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-studies-tribal-colleges/iaia-moves-forward-breaks-ground-on-performing-arts-and-fitness-center/, reported, "The Institute of American Indian Arts held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Performing Arts and Fitness Center on November 10, 2016. The center is part of the IAIA Moving Forward Campaign, which seeks to raise the $9.5 million needed to build the new space.
IAIA has already secured $7.5 millions from individuals, foundations, the State of New Mexico, and various federal sources. The center is expected to have professionally equipped rehearsal spaces, a full gymnasium, a cardio room, weight room, basketball court, as well as a theater."

        Frances Madeson, "Native Teens Debut Experimental Classical Compositions, ICTMN,  October 19, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/native-teens-debut-experimental-classical-compositions/, reported , "The Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project, with the help of composer-in-residence Raven Chacon, recently worked with five teenagers from the Santa Fe Indian School . After an intense week-long course, five new compositions have been created.
   A public concert was held October 6 in connection with SITE Santa Fe’s biennial exhibition : much wider than a line, where the pieces were presented to an enthusiastic audience of approximately 100 music lovers.
The compositions were performed by The Huntress Quartet—Chacon’s musician friends and bandmates—who came together to form a quartet to perform the students’ works."

        Jeannie Allen, SSAI at NASA, "Weaving Din Knowledge With NASA Science for Community Education," September 7, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/weaving-din-knowledge-with-nasa-science-for-community-education/, reported, " A movement is ongoing to reclaim and rebuild original Din (Navajo) culture while building and maintaining relationships with "Western" society. As part of this movement, Din educators, government officials, and elders have worked for 12 years in partnership with the federal agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to weave together the very different ways of knowing embodied by these two groups. The guiding vision has been for Native youth to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) without compromising their cultural identity or undermining culturally-based priorities. Toward this end, the partnership now known as NASA and the Navajo Nation co-created culturally authentic and relevant education materials and programs, and has succeeded because of mutual respect and a great deal of time spent listening to each other."
" One issue the team faced was which language to use in the materials. 'We want to re-discover the original speakers of Navajo language,' says Barney-Nez. 'When you speak the language, certain elements emerge that hold people together.' Ultimately it was decided that the materials should be in both Navajo and English, with some of the materials in Navajo alone.
Another issue was STEM content. How could NASA science and the Din worldview be integrated? 'We started with the stars,' explains Barney-Nez. 'For Navajo, they are our guides. They tell us what to do each season, each day. Sometimes we make a new plan, but it’s always based on the foundational guidance of the stars.'
Two educational booklets were developed: The Story of the Stars or Sq’Baa Hane’ and Navajo Moon or Tl’éhonaa’éíNihemaá and accompanying learning activities and films. Din teachers helped to draft, review, and pilot-test the activities with their students. "We talked about what could be written better, what was missing," said Michelle Brown, one of the participating teachers. "It was awesome because every question we had about Din culture we took back to the project team, they were able to provide us with Din knowledge and resources."
The first booklet was designed for use in community events. Bringing together parents, grandparents, family, and friends in a community setting extended the depth and reach of the activities. The second booklet was designed for use by teachers in classrooms. The partnership also produced star parties, community nights, teacher workshops, and summer camps. 'For the camps, we brought together scientists and Medicine Men, educators and learners,' says Scalice. 'We visited sacred sites with the blessing of the elders. Students learned geology, astronomy, and Din cultural knowledge, all outside, all on the trail.'
The team also created an immersion experience for Native American education program directors at agencies including NASA. Carron explained, 'It’s one thing for NASA folks to fly in for a one-day meeting, but it’s an entirely different thing to spend days and nights with Din people on their land, seeing where and how teachers teach, students learn, and people live.'"

        The young firm, Cultivating Coders has been offering boot camps for aspiring young Navajos wishing to become software and web developers. The New Mexico office of the international firm, WSI, based in Toronto, has made an arrangement with Cultivating Coders to hire its graduates, including, in 2017, 40 of its Din graduates from boot camps in Farmington and Gallop, NM (Kevin Robinson-Avila, "Digital marketing giant to contract Navajo coders," Albuquerque Journal, October 28, 2016, https://www.abqjournal.com/877512/digital-marketing-giant-to-contract-navajo-coders.html).

       Harlan McKosato, "Ethnic Studies Program in NM Lacking Adequate Native Input," ICTMN, July 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/native-news/ethnic-studies-program-in-nm-lacking-adequate-native-input/, reported, "The Albuquerque Public School system recently decided to implement ethnic studies programs for their 13 high schools. The curriculum is being developed now and will be introduced at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The process began with an "Ethnic Studies Professional Development Seminar" that brought in about 40 teachers and community members.
The curriculum will include material on Hispanic, Native American, African American and Asian cultures, and will be offered to high school juniors and seniors as an elective.
'We have found that teaching ethnic studies helps minority students stay in school because they’re learning about their own history, they’re learning about their own contributions to the country, they’re learning about their own cultural story within the United States,' said Ralph Arellanes, Sr., chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, who is leading the charge for developing the ethnic studies curriculum within APS. APS is struggling with a graduation rate hovering around 60 percent, one of the lowest in the nation.
This all sounds like a step in the right direction. However, there is concern that Native Americans are not being asked for their fair share of input.
Dr. Daisy Thompson, Director of the Office of Indian Education for the APS and a member of the Navajo Nation, said her group hasn’t been consulted adequately. "A lot of people here in New Mexico are very ignorant about the tribes, about the number of tribes, and their knowledge about Native Americans. I feel we have a wealth of information, but yet no one has approached us to talk about this."

        Richard Walker, "Native Education Advocates Will Rally to Restore American Indian Heritage High School," ICTMN, November 14, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/native-education-advocates-will-rally-to-restore-american-indian-heritage-high-school/, reported, " Native education advocates plan to rally on November 16, calling for Seattle Public Schools to restore American Indian Heritage High School."
" During its heyday, American Indian Heritage High School had a 100 percent graduation and college attendance rate. But in the early 2000s, the school building’s condition steadily declined as funding for maintenance was directed elsewhere. By 2013, students were sent to other schools and the Heritage School program dismantled, and in 2015 the building was demolished to make way for construction of a new school."
Richard Walker, "Seattle’s New Middle School Will Be ‘Like a Water Fountain in the Desert’," ICTMN, September 6, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/seattles-new-middle-school-will-be-like-a-water-fountain-in-the-desert/, reported, " Seattle’s newest middle school, named for a beloved Native American educator of the 1980s and ’90s, is scheduled to open in time for the 2017-18 school year.
Robert Eagle Staff Middle School is being built on the site of the former American Indian Heritage High School. Licton Spring, which is important to the Duwamish people, flows through this site. The school features Native-themed wall murals by artist Andrew Morrison, Apache/Haida; the walls were saved from the school that was torn down to make way for the new school. The middle school will also house a K-8 program that will focus on Native culture and social justice.
Native education advocates hope the middle school will house a resurrected Indian Heritage High School. Eagle Staff, Lakota, was principal of Indian Heritage School from 1989-1996, when he walked on, and led the school to a 100 percent graduation and college-attendance rate.
But after Eagle Staff’s passing, the school district let the site fall into disrepair as maintenance funds were directed to other schools."

     The Bug -O-Nay-Ge-Shig K-12 School opened in September 2016, on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation near Bena, Minnesota . The new building restores the successful tribal school that was begun as an alternative for tribal youth who were not well served in the public school they attended. Because the building in which the school was housed was decrepit and continuing to decay, student enrollment dropped over a number of years from 120 to 35. After two decades of seeking funds, the new $1.9 million, more than 44,000 square foot school building opened in September 2016 ( Konnie LeMay, "New Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School Finally Being Built," ICTMN, September 28, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/new-bug-o-nay-ge-shig-school-finally-being-built/).

       "Osage Nation Immersion Program Receives $420K Grant," ICMN, September 23, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/ native-education/osage-nation-immersion-program-receives-420k-grant/, reported, "The federal Administration for Native Americans awarded the Osage Nation Immersion School a two-year $420,926 grant to help with the cost of hiring three additional staff members, adding two grade levels, developing a five-year strategic plan, and developing standard operating procedures and policies.
The school was founded last year to perpetuate the Osage language for future generations."

        "Wiki for Indigenous Languages: Using Technology to Stop Language Loss," ICMN, November 23, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/wiki-for-indigenous-languages-using-technology-to-stop-language-loss/, reported, "'The loss of a community’s language leads to widespread cultural change including a movement away from aboriginal medicines, a movement away from aboriginal foods, a rise in diet based diseases, and children losing relations with their local environments,' says Xeli’tia Temryss Lane, Lummi, in a video on the Wiki for Indigenous Languages website .
The site allows anyone to record, learn, and in a way help save their language, and it can be accessed from anywhere in the world, whether that be a mobile phone, a public library, or a home computer."
"Sealaska Heritage Institute Receives Language Revitalization Grant," ICMN,  September 19, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/sealaska-heritage-institute-receives-language-revitalization-grant/, reported, " Sealaska Heritage Institute has received a federal grant to revitalize the languages of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian in four Southeast Alaska communities.
"Sealaska Heritage Institute Releases Tlingit Language and Games Apps," ICMN, September 13, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/sealaska-heritage-institute-releases-tlingit-language-and-games-apps/, reported, " Learning Tlingit just got a little bit easier— Sealaska Heritage Institute recently released a Tlingit Learning app and a Tlingit Language Games app, both available on iPhone and Android devices."

      The disenrollment of "the 306" Nooksack tribal members is having the side effect of undermining the Nooksack Language Revitalization Program, because the last remaining speaker of the Nooksack language, Lhéchelesem, was supporting the cause of the 306  ( Frank Hopper, "Disenrollment Kills Nooksack Language Revitalization Program," ICTMN, June 29, 2016, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-education/disenrollment-kills-nooksack-language-revitalization-program/).

     The films To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey (Reaghan Tarbell, Canada, 2009, 55 min, English) and Bronx Llaktamanta (Doris Loayza, USA, 2016, 5 min, Spanish / Kichwa with English subtitles) were shown at the United Nations, in New York City, on the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, September 13, 2016, to pay tribute to the indigenous peoples living in cities far from their ancestral homes.
To Brooklyn and Back tells the story of Mohawk women and their role in sustaining a vibrant community in Brooklyn while Mohawk workers were helping build Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers in the 1920s to 1960s. Set decades later, Bronx Llaktamanta follows Segundo Angamarca from Ecuador, who runs a Kichwa language radio station two blocks from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The screenings were followed by a discussion about indigenous peoples’ identity, cultural survival and contributions to the world’s cities (E-mail fro the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, August 30, 2016,  indigenous_un@un.org).

     The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline led by American Indians just outside the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota have been a major interest and media point across the world. This includes numerous documentary film makers coming to the site to make films about various aspects of the protest and the issues involved (John Anderson, A Call to Respect the Feathers': Filmmakers with profoundly different attitudes compete to tell the story at Standing Rock," The New York Times, December 17, 2016).

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International Developments

International Organization Developments

     First Peoples World Wide, "Investors React to World Bank Safeguards Rollback," July 14, 2016, http://firstpeoples.org, " Trustees of the Calvert Social Investment Fund are considering a ban on purchasing World Bank bonds, in response to proposed changes to the Bank’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) that weaken protections for Indigenous Peoples.
   Since 2012, the Bank has been revising the ESSF, which is intended to identify and minimize harm caused by its projects. The process has been criticized for failing to comply with international human rights standards on a number of fronts. Calvert is among the growing number of investors that recognize the staggering financial losses incurred by companies and governments that destroy ecosystems, violate human rights, or fail to obtain community support for their operations. In February 2016, the CEO of Blackrock, the world's largest asset manager, called on companies to pay more attention to environmental and social issues in order to generate sustainable returns.
   In a letter addressed to Bank President Jim Yong Kim, trustees expressed concern that Calvert’s long history of constructive engagement with the Bank on Indigenous Peoples, human rights, and gender is being eroded, prompting them to 'reconsider whether continued involvement with the Bank aligns with our sustainable and responsible investment practices.' The letter mentions the Bank’s recent decision to waive the Indigenous Peoples Safeguard for an agribusiness project in Tanzania because the government claims there are no Indigenous Peoples in the country. This sets a precedent that will likely trigger the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ existence in many parts of the globe, in blatant violation of Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination.
   In February 2015, Calvert joined Boston Commons Asset Management, NEI Investments, and other investors worth $125 billion in assets under management to sign a letter urging the Bank to ensure the ESSF is consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
'In addition to ignoring its devastating toll on Indigenous Peoples and other vulnerable communities, the Bank is failing to recognize major changes that are happening in the market,' says Rebecca Adamson, Calvert trustee and Founder and President of First Peoples Worldwide (FPW). 'Companies are seeking business climates that are suitable to the acquisition of a social license to operate. By weakening the environmental and social conditions tied to its loans, the Bank is leading borrower countries away from policy reforms needed to attract foreign investment.' In 2014, FPW published the Indigenous Rights Risk Report, which quantified corporate risk exposure to violating Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
   Currently, the Bank is deliberating the ESSF and is expected to release the final draft for public review on July 20 th, 2016. A final vote on the new policies by the Bank’s Board of Directors is set for August.
Contact: Nick Pelosi, Corporate Engagement Director, First Peoples Worldwide, npelosi@firstpeoples.org, (917)324-3160; Julia Radomski, Information Services Coordinator, Bank Information Center, jradomski@bankinformationcenter.org, (202)624-0636."

        The President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly organized a consultation on the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions in relevant United Nations meetings on issues affecting them.
The two-day meeting took place at the UN Headquarters in New York (Trusteeship Council) on December 14-15, 2016 (The results of the meeting will likely be found at, UNPFII, https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/news/2016/11/participation-of-indigenous-peoples-at-the-un-14-15-december-2016/).

     Detmer Yens Kremer, "UN Special Rapporteur Addresses the Intersection of Conservation and Indigenous Rights." Cultural Survival, October 20, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/un-special-rapporteur-addresses-intersection-conservation-and-indigenous-rights, reported, "On July 29, 2016, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz presented a thematic report that examines the rights of Indigenous Peoples in regards to nature conservation to the UN General Assembly. The impact of the establishment, expansion, and maintenance of nature conservation has been a constant and recurring focus of the Special Rapporteur since the establishment of its mandate. The visits to a variety of countries by Special Rapporteurs have shown that Indigenous people face growing consequences of intrusion of their lands through exclusionary conservation policies, yet also recognizes a growing movement that recognizes the position of Indigenous Peoples in regards to successful, sustainable, and ethical conservation.
Special Rapporteurs have noticed a repetition of specific violations of Indigenous rights in regards to conservation including the expropriation of land, forced displacement, denial of self-governance, lack of access to livelihoods and loss of culture and spiritual sites, non-recognition of their own authorities and denial of access to justice and reparation, including restitution and compensation. Tauli-Corpuz focused in this particular report on terrestrial protected areas, including World Heritage Sites, yet acknowledged the myriad of ways in which the land and water rights of Indigenous Peoples are violated through extractive industries, pollution, urbanization, and other processes outside the scope of this rapport. Based on this history of violations of rights, and a recent albeit patchy application of recentering Indigenous Peoples in conservation efforts, the Special Rapporteur decided it was time to provide an in-depth rapport to evaluate the status of the human rights-based nature conservation.
In the report, protected areas are defined as geographically defined areas that are designated, regulated, and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives, and could be identified as national parks, wildlife refuges, community lands, et cetera. These areas aim to protect and safeguard biodiversity for all of humanity. Unfortunately these spaces have since colonial times gravely infringed upon the rights of Indigenous Peoples. For over a century, the establishment of conservation areas was accompanied with vacating protected areas based on the understanding that the sole method of nature conservation was through removing any human presence. This destroyed political and spiritual sites and severed cultural connections to space, and was accompanied with genocide, rape, poverty and ethnocide. Now, protected areas have almost doubled in size since 1980 alone, from 8.7 million square kilometers to 16.1 million square kilometers in 2000, and yet colonial mindsets persist globally.
The report mentions significant overlap between ancestral lands of Indigenous Peoples and areas which retain the highest levels of biodiversity on earth. These lands make up about 22% of the world’s land surface and contain approximately 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Particularly in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, India, Nepal, and the Philippines, many protected lands are on Indigenous lands. These facts require a conservation approach that accounts for the rights and experiences of Indigenous Peoples, especially as many Indigenous people retain strong spiritual links with the plants, trees, and animals as well as the lands themselves. Conserving the land becomes a sacred duty, yet because it is not named as such. The knowledge and practice of Indigenous Peoples is not often acknowledged nor included, violating Indigenous rights, and putting conservation efforts at a disadvantage. More and more studies demonstrate that territories where Indigenous Peoples hold land rights have been significantly better conserved than adjacent lands. The loss of guardianship Indigenous people can provide also leaves many areas exposed to destructive settlement, extractive industries, illegal logging, agribusiness expansion and large-scale infrastructure development, even when strict protections are in place.
The mobilization of Indigenous Peoples’ movements is seeking to incorporate a greater recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights as well as their benefit to conservation efforts. Although this is an extremely positive development, significant gaps remain between new policies and their implementation. Additionally, laws regarding Indigenous rights and conservation efforts are often not harmonized, particularly regarding previously established protected areas. These legal challenges contribute to the failure to successfully alter oppressive and unsustainable policies.
Self-determination is central to improving the rights of Indigenous Peoples and has been interpreted in a variety of legal contexts. It is considered an overarching right because self-determination directly impacts economic, cultural, and political development as well as the participation in processes and decisions regarding the establishment and management of protected areas. The right to self-determination is enshrined within both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966, article 1) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966, article 1) and is included in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007, article 3, 29). Additionally the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, enshrined in ILO Convention No. 169 and many other legislative and administrative measures, emphasizes the requirement to respect and incorporate the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, most notably in regards to their ancestral lands and its conservation.
Additionally, many mechanisms such as ILO Convention No. 169 (article 16), stipulate that Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly displaced, and stresses the disproportionate impact Indigenous displacement can have as it severs cultural and spiritual ties to land. If forcible removal occurs, Indigenous peoples have the right to receive fair reparation including restitution and compensation, as well as the option of returning to their lands. Article 8 (j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted in 1992, specifically calls on member states to respects and maintain Indigenous knowledge, innovations, and practices in order to create more sustainable and ethical protected areas. The Convention, however, fails to contain explicit recognition of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Although there is an increased awareness of the importance of Indigenous Peoples in successful conservation efforts, which is reflected in several international treaties, many Indigenous Peoples face the ongoing legacy of colonial nature protection and see their human rights violated. The positive changes that did happen were because of how Indigenous people mobilized and pursued the implementation of the evolving international legal standards to ensure their customary rights. Despite the fact that conservation is gradually embracing a human rights-based approach, significant challenges remain in ensuring its effective implementation.
The Durban Accord and Action Plan (DAAP) was adopted to create a framework to implement this paradigm shift of explicitly including Indigenous peoples in conservation efforts. DAAP seeks to ensure that Indigenous peoples and local communities participate in the establishment and management of protected areas, and that conservation authorities promote the rights and conditions of Indigenous Peoples . DAAP set out three major targets concerning the rights of Indigenous Peoples;
All existing and future protected areas shall be managed and established in full compliance with the rights of Indigenous peoples, mobile peoples and local communities
Protected areas shall have representatives chosen by Indigenous Peoples and local communities in their management proportionate to their rights and interests
Participatory mechanisms for the restitution of Indigenous Peoples' traditional lands and territories that were incorporated in protected areas without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent shall be established and implemented by 2010.
Although these three targets are still far from being achieved, many international human rights bodies and international conservation NGOs have adopted new resolutions endorsing these goals and created alliances and mechanisms to hold each other accountable to ensure successful implementation. Several conservation organizations, including International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and Conservation International, have established Indigenous advisory bodies and are working on the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in senior positions.
The slow adoption and implementation of new conservation policies leaves room for the large-scale violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples, which include forced displacement from protected areas, poverty, food insecurity, and extrajudicial killings. These violations often occur in protected areas declared prior to human rights-based conservation and in countries where legal mechanisms to protect Indigenous Peoples remain insufficient. An example given in the report is the forced displacement of Ogiek and Sengwer from their ancestral lands in Kenya to form Mount Elgon National Park and Chepkitale Game Park, and the continued marginalization and exclusion faced by these communities. Another example is the inconsistency of Canadian legislation that is prohibiting U'wa from managing the Peak of Cocuy Mountain, a deeply sacred space that ought to only be tread upon with permission from U'wa spiritual authorities, but currently faces environmental degradation and excess tourism. Protected areas occasionally overlap with sites with World Heritage designation, which presents particular issues as these specific UNESCO mechanisms do not require participation by Indigenous Peoples and the declaration of these sites often occurs without Free, Prior and Informed Consent. An example is the requested listing of Kaeng Krachen National Park in 2013 by Thailand without consulting the Karen people. The Karen have experienced forced evictions, destruction of housing and crops, arrests and enforced disappearances, and collectively expressed concerns about a possible World Heritage designation for many believe it would intensify human rights violations as well as negatively impact the environment.
The rapport presented by Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz reaffirms a truth many Indigenous Peoples have known for a long time; to sustainably protect the land you need to include the people that live there and know the spaces. Increasing evidence supports the correlation between Indigenous land management and positive conservation outcomes, from resisting deforestation in Brazil to growing wildlife populations in Namibia. As climate change becomes more pressing, so does the amount of land we seek to protect and sustain. To do so sustainably, Indigenous participation is paramount. Rights-based conservation continues to face difficulties in implementation as nations struggle with colonial narratives of protecting nature. As extractive industries and expanding infrastructure prey on biodiverse lands, any conservation effort requires the legal recognition and explicit inclusion of Indigenous Peoples. This requires the full recognition of Indigenous land rights, and a ratification and implementation of the Durban Action Plan. It is a necessary commitment to actualize the sustainable and inclusive protected areas needed to achieve human rights globally and to change climate change and its consequences.
Cultural Survival's Community Radio Grants Project Associate Dev Kumar, of Nepal, met up with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz at this year's World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in Hawaii and interviewed her about the intersection of conservation and Indigenous Peoples." The recording can be heard by going to: https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/un-special-rapporteur-addresses-intersection-conservation-and-indigenous-rights.

     Detmer Kremer, " 33rd UN Human Rights Council Accepts Three Resolutions Concerning Indigenous Peoples," Cultural Survival, October 16, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/33rd-un-human-rights-council-accepts-three-resolutions-concerning-indigenous-peoples, reported, "On September 13-21, 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) met for its 33 rd session. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. During the time dedicated to the rights of Indigenous Peoples at the session, Mexico and Guatemala took charge on the adoption of three different resolutions. One on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (SRRIP), one on the thematic studies presented by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and the final resolution concerns the EMRIP mandate as defined by the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP). The meeting also specifically addressed the experience of Indigenous women with disabilities. Adam Abdelmoula, the director of the HRC and the Treaty Mechanisms Division, emphasized how gender-based oppression, ability-based oppression, and anti-Indigenous oppression produce particular experiences demanding an intersectional approach. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the current SRRIP, stressed that 'the time has come to integrate more Indigenous women and girls by facilitating their participation in the decision-making processes.' The Indian Resource Law Centre (IRLC) informed the meeting that 90% of Indigenous victims of sexual violence reported that said violence was committed by non-Indigenous persons, and thus that any sustainable change must recognize intercultural inequality. Lastly, the meeting also encouraged the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and healthcare concerning disabilities of all sorts and experiences.
The member states of the Council extended the mandate of the SRRIP to a period of three years. Additionally the adopted resolution emphasizes that the SRRIP examines the ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to ensure the full effective protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to gather and exchange all relevant information between governments, Indigenous Peoples, and their communities and organizations, on alleged violations and abuses of Indigenous human rights. The SRRIP also works to formulate recommendations and proposals to prevent and remedy Indigenous human rights violations and abuses. Lastly, the SRRIP was asked to "pay special attention to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous children and women," and to take in account the variety of Indigenous experiences in her work.
The thematic studies presented by EMRIP, similar to the theme of the session, focused on the right to health and the experiences of Indigenous communities that require particular attention in regards to the needs of Indigenous women, children, youth, elders, and persons with disabilities. The reports stressed the importance of traditional knowledge and health practices, and that any intercultural approaches must be sensitive to historical and cultural nuances. The reports specifically called to intensify efforts to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. EMRIP encouraged member states to continue to participate in and contribute to its discussions, and asked member states to give due consideration to fulfill the commitments undertaken in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international and national programs and plans.
The final resolution sought to implement the recommendations and definitions concerning the EMRIP mandate as suggested by the WCIP in order to achieve the ends of UNDRIP through the promotion, protection, and fulfilment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The session agreed that EMRIP will prepare an annual global study on the status on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, which will include suggestions from member states and Indigenous Peoples, and that EMRIP will report to the Human Rights Council at least once a year. This presentation shall be open to the participation of member states, United Nations mechanisms, stakeholders, and all Indigenous Peoples and their communities and organizations. EMRIP will consist of seven independent experts, each representing one of the seven Indigenous sociocultural regions. This process will follow the procedure and criteria for nominating, selecting, and appointing mandate holders.
For more information regarding the general notes of the meeting and the precise language and other components, please read more" at http://cendoc.docip.org/collect/upd_en/index/assoc/HASHfcd1.dir/Synthesis%20note%20HRC%2033th%20session_EN.pdf?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=New+Docip+Publication+_+Summary+Notes+on+the+33th+HRC+session&utm_campaign=20161012_m134861266_New+Docip+Publication+_+Summary+Notes+on+the+33th+HRC+session&utm_term=Summary+Notes+n_C2_BA+2.

     Cultural Survival separately reported several reviews of countries human rights records by the UN Human Rights Council, in which there were recommendations concerning Indigenous peoples, on September 14, 2016. Those reports have been combined here:
"On January 20, 2016, Paraguay’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-paraguay) as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
The UPR is an opportunity to report on the implementation of certain recommendations as well as the general state of human rights in the country subject to review. The process stresses dialogue and a sharing of knowledge on both local and global levels. There are five phases of participation in the Universal Periodic Review; Preparation, Interaction, Consideration, Adoption, and Implementation. In total, these five phases amount to a 24-month campaign that can educate, engage, and empower Indigenous Peoples to connect issues at the grassroots level with global governmental responsibility based on recommendations drafted in their own communities and countries.
During Paraguay’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the country’s Indigenous population of approximately 115,000 people or 1.6% of the total population. The Indigenous peoples of Paraguay fall under five different linguistic families; Guaraní, Maskoy, Mataco Mataguayo, Zamuco, and Guaicurú. Although Paraguay has ratified many international treaties such as ILO 169 and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and has established the Indigenous Peoples Institute of Paraguay, the situation for many communities remains dire. Inaccessibility to the justice system, extreme poverty, and the theft of land remain significant issues that disproportionately impoverish Indigenous communities. The increased presence of extractive industries and hydroelectric dams have posed significant threats to the lands of many Indigenous communities.
Cultural Survival is one of the 18 organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the implementation of recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:
To protect and strengthen the land rights of Indigenous communities and eradicate land-based discriminatory practices, specifically by enforcing the Inter-American Court sentences in regards to the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa communities (Lebanon, Germany, Costa Rica, Canada, Australia, Norway).
To pass legislation that protects the right to free, prior and informed consent and other legislation that explicitly recognizes and protects the rights of Indigenous peoples (Philippines, Lebanon, Armenia, Iraq, India, Plurinational State of Bolivia) .
To pass legislation and policy that combats any form of discrimination, and to explicitly mention Indigenous communities in such laws (Honduras, Brazil, Guatemala, Greece, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan) and to bolster and increase the support of the Indigenous Peoples Institute of Paraguay (INDI) (Peru, Haiti, Georgia).
To increase the access to quality education that respects and encourages Indigenous cultures and languages (Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Holy See, Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran) and to ratify the Convention against Discrimination in Education (Iraq, Nicaragua, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Portugal, Ghana, Honduras).
To enhance the access to and quality of healthcare, specifically in regards to Indigenous communities and reproductive rights (Belgium, Colombia, Panama, Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic).
   To improve access to, and fairness and transparency of the justice system to Indigenous peoples (Mexico, Egypt, Spain)."
"On January 21, 2016, the Kingdom of Denmark’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-denmark) as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) second cycle process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
The UPR is an opportunity to report on the implementation of certain recommendations as well as the general state of human rights in the country subject to review. The process stresses dialogue and a sharing of knowledge on both local and global levels. There are five phases of participation in the Universal Periodic Review; Preparation, Interaction, Consideration, Adoption, and Implementation. In total, these five phases amount to a 24-month campaign that can educate, engage, and empower Indigenous Peoples to connect issues at the grassroots level with global governmental responsibility based on recommendations drafted in their own communities and countries.
During Denmark’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the the Greenlandic Inuit, Denmark’s only recognized Indigenous people. The Inuit still maintain traditional Indigenous practices, such as hunting and fishing. The Inuit were subjugated under Danish colonial rule from 1721 up through the twentieth century. In 1953, Denmark implemented a severe policy of modernization through urbanization, relocating the Inuit from their small, subsistence-based communities to major cities. In 1979, Greenland successfully lobbied for autonomy from Denmark and achieved a Home Rule Government, which was expanded to Self-Government in 2009. Although Denmark’s initial relationship with its Indigenous Population reflected typical Western European imperialism, its more recent promotion of governmental sovereignty for Greenland illustrates its sincere investment in and respect for Indigenous Peoples. During the 1950s the Inuit faced increasing forced assimilation coded as urbanization and modernization. In recent years, the Inuit community has achieved greater sovereignty and bolstered culture and language. As climate change is creating unprecedented access to natural resources in Greenland, extractive industries evoke new questions concerning environmental responsibility and Inuit independence.
Cultural Survival is one of the organizations that submitted a stakeholder report regarding the recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations resonate with the recommendations made by Cultural Survival.
To internalize and enforce the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), in specific regards to the criminal justice system, the education system, and the political system (recommended by the United Kingdom, Brazil, Maldives, Indonesia, Estonia).
To establish a national action plan to directly target and solve issues of societal racial discrimination (recommended by Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan, Benin, Côte D’Ivoire, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Chile, Poland, New Zealand) .
To engage in dialogue with the Greenlandic government as a sovereign entity to ensure a continued campaign towards gender equality and stronger rights for women (recommended by Honduras, Costa Rica).
   To bolster and further protect the rights of Indigenous people, particularly in regards to tradition, identity, language, access to education, and increased self-determination and recognition of distinct cultures within the Inuit population of Greenland (recommended by Armenia, Canada, Mexico, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iceland, Djibouti, Panama)
"On January 18, 2016 (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-namibia), Namibia’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
During Namibia’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the Indigenous Peoples which includes San, Nama, Himba, Zemba, and Twa, and totals to approximately 8% of the population. All these communities are culturally and linguistically diverse and live across the country. The San, a multicultural peoples, originally lived in the Kalahari Desert but have been forcibly displaced from these lands. Although much of Namibia is benefitting from increased revenue in extractive industries and tourism, Indigenous Peoples have not benefitted equally, and sometimes have actively been disadvantaged. For example the Oshivelo San are currently landless after having been evicted from what is currently Etosha National Park. Besides disproportionate poverty, Indigenous peoples face racism in areas of health, education, property rights, political representation, and programs for cultural support.
Cultural Survival is one of the nine organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the implementation of recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:
To internalize and enforce the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (recommended by Portugal, Slovakia, Montenegro).
To ratify the UNESCO Convention on discrimination in education, and to focus on the culturally appropriate participation and accessibility of Indigenous peoples to safe education (Tunisia, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Austria, Singapore, Fiji) .
To improve the access, facilities, and ownership of adequate lands of Indigenous peoples, especially of peoples who have been deprived of their ancestral lands and increase the inclusion of Indigenous voices in political decision making, be it locally or nationally (Australia, Mexico, Haiti, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Cuba, Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe).
To promote the effective access to basic social services for the Indigenous minorities on an equal footing with the rest of the society, as well as rapid adoption and effective implementation of the "White Paper on Indigenous Rights" drafted by the Ombudsman Office (Haiti, Spain)
To improve the access of Indigenous peoples to proper and culturally appropriate healthcare and to bolster efforts to fight societal discrimination towards Indigenous peoples through continuation of programs like the San Development Program (France, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Honduras, Lesotho, Trinidad and Tobago)"
   "On November 4, 2015 , Rwanda’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-rwanda) as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
During Rwanda’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the country’s Indigenous Batwa population of approximately 35.000 people. The Batwa have lived as hunter-gatherers in Rwanda for approximately 2000 years. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide and its aftermath, Batwa were displaced from their ancestral lands in order to create national parks. The contemporary Batwa community faces tremendous discrimination in regards to land rights, housing justice, political representation, education and healthcare. Although Rwanda has been making significant strides in regards to its political and judicial system, existing legislation prevents the Batwa from being recognized as a distinct, Indigenous people. This legislation aims to prevent genocide and ethnicity-based prejudice and violence, but effectively disenfranchises the Batwa and renders them powerless to self-organize and enjoy the human rights promised to them in the international human rights treaties Rwanda has ratified (Rwanda was absent from the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007).
Cultural Survival is one of the 21 organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the implementation of recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:
To improve the access and quality of education for all Rwandans, specifically those of rural or historically marginalized groups, and to embed human rights frameworks into curricula (Morocco, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Slovakia, Namibia, China).
To ensure that Rwanda’s agricultural policies do not undermine food security or the land rights of the most vulnerable communities (Ireland) .
   To strengthen measures to ensure integration of marginalized and vulnerable members of society and to enforce the implementation of human rights through the allocation of resources to actualize those rights (Nigeria, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire) and to accelerate the development of the National Human Rights Action Plan and its independent monitors (Israel, South Sudan, Georgia, Côte d’Ivoire, Paraguay)."
"On January 18, 2016, Niger’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-niger) as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
During Niger’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the Indigenous peoples of the Peul and Tuareg, which each amount to approximately one million people, and the Toubou, who number to about 200.000. Many of these peoples are pastoralists and live fully or semi-nomadically. The Nigerien Pastoral Code, adopted in 2010, aims to secure land and protect the cultures of pastoralists. However land grabs, extractive industries, and an unorganized influx of refugee threaten Indigenous cultures and rights. Although the creation of the Pastoral Code successfully included the voices of Indigenous communities, its implementation has been severely delayed. The lack of action has furthered the erosion of Indigenous rights, which has already resulted in violence. As Niger is facing consequences of climate change and global instability, the rights of Indigenous Peoples continue to be uncertain.
Cultural Survival is one of the 14 organizations that submitted a stakeholder report, focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, regarding the recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations resonate with a majority of the recommendations made by Cultural Survival.
The recommendations below did not enjoy the support of Niger and were not accepted but only noted:
To internalize and enforce the human rights instruments Niger has ratified, and create independent institutions to monitor its implementation (recommended by Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Costa Rica).
To further its commitment to gender equality and the equal rights of women and children, and prioritizing the abolition of Wahaya, a practice that disproportionately affects Indigenous women (Ukraine, Spain, Uruguay, Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) .
To improve the protection of Indigenous land rights by implementing and enforcing the Pastoral Code (France, Denmark).
To improve the access of Indigenous peoples to proper and culturally appropriate healthcare and education (Egypt, Algeria)."
"On November 4, 2015, Nepal’s human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/human-rights-council-reviews-nepal) as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
   During Nepal’s review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the Aadivasi Janajati, or recognized Indigenous nationalities of Nepal. According to the government this amounts to approximately 37% of the population, however many Indigenous rights organizations dispute this figure and place the percentage point around 50%. The 59 recognized Indigenous nationalities have seen Nepal ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO 169, however the implementation of Indigenous rights has been severely lacking. The presence of a caste system has historically placed Indigenous communities on the bottom of society. This has resulted in an absence in political participation, infractions on religious freedom, and the displacement of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands through extractive industries and national park forming. Additionally educational access is limited and often not inclusive of Indigenous languages and modes of knowledge, creating disproportionate levels of illiteracy among Indigenous women.
Cultural Survival is one of the 38 organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the implementation of recommendations from the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:
   To improve the access, quality, and affordability of education for all Nepalese citizens, specifically those of rural or Indigenous communities, and in regards to women and girls (Singapore, Indonesia, Namibia, Maldives, Afghanistan, Israel, Dominican Republic, China, Sri Lanka, Qatar, United Arab Emirates).
   To ensure compliance with all ratified human rights treaties and mechanisms, and to combat any form of discrimination (Germany, Czech Republic, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan) , with a particular focus on post-earthquake reconstruction efforts (Australia) .
   To create an effective and independent mechanism to address reported discrimination against women and Indigenous peoples and foster dialogues (Uganda, Ukraine).
   To ensure that its climate change-related policies are informed by Nepal’s human rights commitments and obligations (Philippines)."
"On January 25, 2016, the Solomon Islands’ human rights record was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. This mechanism emerged from the 2005 UN reform process and periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States. It is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN human rights treaty bodies. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
During Solomon Islands’ review, several recommendations were made pertaining to Indigenous Peoples. These recommendations affect the country’s predominantly indigenous population of 600.000 people who speak 120 different languages across 347 inhabited islands. The largest non-Solomon Islander populations consist of Polynesian and i-Kiribati peoples, who have often been brought to the Solomon Islands through British colonialism. Although the country is predominantly Indigenous, the Solomon Islands has yet to ratify many major treaties, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Particularly rural and remote communities have struggled to achieve human rights, especially with mounting struggle created by industrial logging, extractive mining, and most significantly to the island nation, climate change.
Cultural Survival is one of the seven organizations that submitted a stakeholder report. Focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the report reviewed the status of the recommendations made in the previous cycle of the UPR. Second cycle recommendations that reflect the submission by Cultural Survival include:
   To ratify and implement major international human rights treaties, in particular ILO no. 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Argentina, Slovenia, Iraq, Benin, Philippines, Djibouti, Morocco, Nigeria).
To further its commitment to gender equality and the equal rights of women and children, with specific regard to rural areas (Morocco) .
To use the advantage of its matrilineal society to improve women’s access to power, especially in relation to land issues, sanitation and family rights (Jamaica).
To enhance the access and fairness of the formal justice system, especially in regards to rural areas and through the establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Committees (Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, France).
To establish independent human rights institutions and enact legislation that ensure that corporations respect human and environmental rights and directly addresses the displacements caused by climate change and natural disasters (New Zealand, Switzerland, Djibouti)."
In all these cases, "These recommendations are given to encourage the government to improve their human rights records, and to provide the opportunity for citizens to set up specific goals. These reviews provide the tools and information to continue to advocate for change and to hold, in this case, the Solomon Islands, accountable to its commitment to human rights.
There are many different ways in which civil society, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, can use this information to strengthen commitment to human rights and hold their governments accountable in implementing UPR recommendations.
By publicizing the recommendations and commitments made by the country involved, and raising awareness of the envisioned benchmarks, civil society can make the government accountable to its citizens, as well as increase the participation of Indigenous and other marginalized citizens in the process of creating, assessing, and evaluating these recommendations. This is possible through radio shows, press releases, publications, speaker events, festivals, email blasts, social media campaigns, and community organizing as examples.
To become a part of the implementation of the recommendations. To ensure the sustainability and success of these recommendations Indigenous citizens and their organizations need to part of or lead the implementation. This is possible through advocating for transparency, inclusion, and creating awareness and accountability. As the inclusion of Indigenous voices is in itself a recommendation, it is important to hold the country accountable.
Besides implementing recommendations, Indigenous citizens and their organizations should also be part of monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on the implementation of these recommendations. One way of vocalizing Indigenous concerns is through presenting at the Human Rights Council, which convenes three times a year."
"Civil society groups and local organizations can read UPR Info’s "Civil Society Follow Up Kit" to learn more about how to implement UPR recommendations on the ground in their country.
Ultimately, the UPR process is an opportunity for Indigenous communities to vocalize their concerns and experiences, create action plans, and ensure implementation and accountability."

        "Ninth Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Promotes the Right to Health for Indigenous Communities," Cultural Survival, July 21, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/ninth-session-expert-mechanism-rights-indigenous-peoples-promotes-right-health-indigenous, reported, " The Ninth Session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples took place from the 11th to 15th of July 2016 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. At the end of this session the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples released a study which focused on the right to health for Indigenous Peoples. The study analyzed the right to health in "spiritual, emotional, cultural and social dimensions, in addition to physical health " with a focus on Indigenous children and youth.
Cultural Survival Executive Director Suzanne Benally (Dinè and Santa Clara Tewa) attended the session and delivered an intervention on July 12, 2016. In her intervention, Benally declared that "the right to health in Indigenous communities is rarely understood or addressed holistically. Social services and health interventions are isolated from a holistic framework, underfunded, disregarded, or non-existent. The failure of states to understand the relationship between Indigenous peoples well-being and health and their spiritual and cultural ties to their lands and territories continues a long history of cultural genocide." During the session, members of the Expert Mechanism examined the ways in which Indigenous communities are currently being denied a right to health, and how States and governments can take steps towards implementing measures for Indigenous Peoples to have increased access to healthcare in all capacities.
The study first establishes a legal framework in which the right to health is guaranteed to Indigenous communities across the globe, through treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The right to health forms an integral part of these treaties, and as the Special Rapporteur on the right to health has explained, this should push the states to partner with Indigenous Peoples in order to ameliorate the well-being of Indigenous communities.
Availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quantity of right to health are provisions that the Expert Mechanism considers essential to state obligations of fulfilling Indigenous Peoples’ right to health. Healthcare for Indigenous communities is often geographically inaccessible or of poor quality; many individuals also experience racial discrimination and marginalization when seeking access to healthcare. The Expert Mechanism has also stated that governments have a duty delineated by international laws and treaties to respect, protect, and fulfill all Indigenous Communities’ right to health. States should work to change discriminatory and harmful practices surrounding Indigenous communities, and promote the inclusion of Indigenous individuals in the leadership and decision-making process concerning the health of their communities.
The Expert Mechanism then brings attention to the poorer standard of health for Indigenous children, stating that Indigenous women and children are more vulnerable to human rights violations, have higher infant mortality rates, and experience frequent discrimination when forced to move to more urban areas looking for higher quality education and employment. Leaving their traditional homes behind, many Indigenous individuals have a higher risk of experiencing depression and substance abuse, as well as other health risks that develop without the existence of a support system.
Regarding education, illiteracy rates among Indigenous children are significantly higher than among non Indigenous children. In addition, the Expert Mechanism declares that dropout rates are alarming; in Peru, Indigenous girls aged 12-16 have school dropout rates of 89% (A/HRC/29/40/Add.2., para. 68). The Expert Mechanism urges governments to increase investment in education for Indigenous communities. Suicide rates among Indigenous youths are also startlingly high. The Expert Mechanism advocates for the implementation of suicide prevention strategies in schools and communities to reduce feelings of depression and hopelessness among Indigenous youth. For Indigenous women, access to sexual and reproductive health services is extremely limited and maternal mortality rates are excessively high, as are the rates at which Indigenous women experience sexual and domestic violence. The Expert Mechanism suggests that many of these problems faced by Indigenous woman can be ameliorated through states partnering with Indigenous communities, and implementing programs such as maternal wards, midwife training, the eradication of laws that prevent access to contraceptives, in addition to offering legal remedies to domestic and sexual violence. The Expert Mechanism has also urged states to address discriminatory practices which Indigenous persons with disabilities experience at a higher rate than the average population.
A variety of challenges exist for Indigenous Peoples accessing their right to health, such as communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Infectious diseases, like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis exist at high levels in Indigenous populations. Tropical diseases such as trachoma, yaws, and leprosy, are also existent at disproportionately high rates in Indigenous communities. It has also been estimated that more than 50% of Indigenous adults over age 35 suffer from Type II diabetes worldwide (ST/ESA/328). The Expert Mechanism has suggested that states create a mass treatment program for these diseases, specifically among Indigenous communities.
Not only is physical health concerning in Indigenous communities, but poor environmental health is evident as well. For example, climate change has changed the hunting and fishing practices of the Inuit People in Canada, leading Indigenous communities to rely on less healthy and more mainstream food options. Transnational corporations also contribute to environmental damage, often contaminating water sources, food, and causing communities to be displaced from their traditional lands. The Expert Mechanism advocates for companies to cooperate with Indigenous people and the State in order to reduce the adverse effects of their practices.
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ultimately urges States to provide Indigenous communities with the full right to health by ratifying ILO Convention No. 169, in addition to creating plans and programs that promote mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health. The study also advocates for the elimination of laws that may prevent Indigenous individuals from accessing this right to health, such as bans on contraceptives, and to work with Indigenous communities to prevent environmental damage from outside companies or entities. The Expert Mechanism has also suggested that Indigenous Peoples themselves bolster efforts to promote health rights and representation of Indigenous communities, and recommended that international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the United Nations should research treatments for physical and mental health, partnering with Indigenous Peoples to promote best practices for health in Indigenous communities.
   The final draft of the study will soon be available."

        "American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Adopted," International Indian Treaty Council, http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/1383891/50591cbee8/545546365/0fb3cb9d79/, reported, "A fter 30 years of negotiations, the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly adopted the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on June 15, 2016. During the final negotiating session and in a letter submitted to the Chair on May 19, 2016 IITC expressed concerns regarding language in article 24.5 on "Rights to Land and Resources" that includes the phrase "…in accordance with the legal system of each state…," which was not accepted in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, IITC had worked for and strongly supported the American Declaration’s Article 23 on Treaties as adopted, which further strengthens the UN Declaration Article 37 with provisions on "true spirit and intent" and international redress. The American Declaration also contains articles on Family, Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation, which are not included in the UN Declaration. As both the American and UN Declaration are cited in the American Declaration as "minimum standards," IITC will continue to advocate that the strongest provisions in each Declaration be considered as the minimum standard for the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas.
The IITC statement to the OAS and other information is at: http://www.iitc.org/program-areas/treaties-standard-setting/the-oas-american-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/. The text of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is at: http://indianlaw.org/adrip/home

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Regional and Country Developments

     "Mexico and Canada Sign Memorandum of Understanding about Indigenous Peoples Without Consulting First Nations," Cultural Survival, July 6, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/mexico-and-canada-sign-memorandum-understanding-about-indigenous-peoples-without-consulting, reported, "On June 28th, 2016, the President of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, issued a joint statement declaring that they have reached an accord regarding Indigenous Peoples. The statement affirmed 'the importance of a renewed strategic partnership founded on the fundamental values of democracy, respect for human rights, diversity, inclusion, gender equality, Indigenous rights, good governance, and rule of law, as well as on improved economic opportunity and respect for our shared environment.'
Information on the accord is still limited, but the statement notes that 'both countries have also agreed to share more information about how we can improve the health and prosperity of our Indigenous Peoples.' Both Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto attest that First Nations and Indigenous Peoples will form part of the advancements promised by the accord. The statement issued also mentions increased efforts by both countries to create new energy reforms, taking steps forward for Indigenous communities to participate in the decision-making in the energy sector.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde acknowledged the new accord between Canada and Mexico, answering that 'any initiatives aimed at Indigenous Peoples must respect Indigenous rights, Treaties, human rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are concerned that First Nations have not had the opportunity to provide input on the Accord announced today. We fully expect to get more details immediately so we can assess the accord and consider the next steps. We are pushing for sustained action to close the gap and ensure respect for Indigenous rights and it is essential that First Nations be directly involved in any agreement of this kind from the beginning.' The Assembly of First Nations is an organization that represents First Nation citizens in Canada. Chief Perry Bellegarde added that the Assembly of First Nations is currently examining the accord and plans on searching for more specific information regarding First Nations and Indigenous Peoples in the accord to distribute it as soon as possible.
According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), 851,560 people in Canada identified themselves as First Nations individuals, making up 2.6% of the total population of Canada. As a group, they represent more than 600 First Nations and at least 60 different languages. In Mexico, The National Institute for Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the National Population Council (CONAPO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) report that there are 16,933,283 Indigenous people in Mexico. Indigenous Peoples in Mexico make up 15.1% of the total population of 112,236,538 people. As a whole, Indigenous communities in Mexico speak 68 different languages and 364 different dialects."

         The deaths, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, of seven teenage Aboriginal high school students from isolated reserve communities since 2000 has raised numerous questions. Inquests have not been able to determine the cause of death. In one case, bruises on the body suggested that the student may have been attacked. One Aboriginal high school student fled Thunder Bay, and returned home, after being beaten and thrown into the river. A large part of the problem relates to to the students living in scattered private homes, as roomers, rather than in a dormitory with support and orientation on living in a strange community, geographically and culturally far from home. The lack of a dormitory and First Nation student support is related to problems in delivering education to Aboriginal students in Canada. Schooling for most Canadians is financed with a mix of provincial and local taxes, with the federal government responsible only for educating indigenous children living on reserves. This has resulted in a wide disparity. Thunder Bay’s Roman Catholic French-language school spends about 27,000 Canadian dollars, or about $20,000, per student. Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, where six of the dead students were enrolled, receives 11,000 Canadian dollars per pupil. First Nation leaders have asked for an investigation into the deaths. But as of July 2016, no action has been taken. (Ian Austin, "7 Teenage Deaths, but No Answers for Aboriginal Canadians," The New York Times, July 13, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/14/world/americas/unsolved-deaths-of-indigenous-canadian-students-offer-a-glimpse-of-hardship.html?ref=todayspaper).

        Dan Levin, "APTN, a TV Voice for Largely Ignored Indigenous Canadians," The New York Times, October 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/pages/todayspaper/index.html, reported, "The day’s top news stories are beamed from a round studio that evokes a tepee. Adventurous chefs teach viewers how to hunt, skin and cook beaver in a stew. Cartoons about a powerful superhero are broadcast in the Algonquin language.
These are just some of the many programs that appear on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network , Canada ’s indigenous broadcaster. Better known as APTN, the network is mainly aimed at viewers in Canada whose cultures existed long before the first Europeans arrived. But its reach is far larger, available to more than 11 million Canadian cable and satellite subscribers with news and entertainment programs designed to reflect the values, spiritual traditions and political priorities of indigenous people across Canada".
The network has received a lift from the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised to reset Canada’s relationship with its indigenous peoples. Aware of the network’s political influence among aboriginal communities, Mr. Trudeau in June became the first prime minister to sit down for an interview with APTN while serving.
The network began in 1999 with a mission to speak for and to the roughly 1.8 million indigenous people in a country that is about 75 percent white. While ethnic minorities often appear on mainstream Canadian networks, "the original people are not represented," said Sky Bridges, 38, the chief operating officer of APTN, a nonprofit organization that generates revenue through subscriber fees, advertising sales and strategic partnerships."

     Kirk Johnson, "Old Treaties and New Alliances Empower Native Americans," The New York Times, 15, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/us/old-treaties-and-new-alliances-empower-native-americans.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported, "A vast stretch of deep-green temporal rain forest bigger than Maine and stretching from northwest Washington to Alaska — called the Great Bear in British Columbia — has emerged as a laboratory for change. An agreement signed this year between British Columbia and 27 tribal nations, including the Heiltsuk, protects much of the forest from commercial logging and shifts some management authority to the tribes."
"'This is how land resource decisions are going to be made in the future — through co-management with people who have been on the land forever,' said Hadley Archer, the executive director of the Nature Conservancy Canada, which helped put together the Great Bear forest agreement. To that end, the University of Victoria law school in British Columbia will begin enrolling students next year in a degree program that will combine the traditional study of court precedents and legislation with the study of tribal law.
People like Chantal Pronteau, a member of the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation (pronounced hay-hay), are walking this uncharted road.
Last year, Ms. Pronteau, 22, put on a uniform as a member of the Coastal Guardian Watchmen, a Native American patrol, to monitor the environment and guard against poachers and illegal tree-cutters from Klemtu, her community’s tiny home village of about 300 people."

        In Nova Scotia, Canada, the several hundred member Little Bras d’Or Indian Association is attempting to gain recognition for its members as Indians of the Mi’kmaq First Nation. They are descendants of a tribal member, who in the early 19th Century changed his name to Francis Young to avoid being forced to move to a reserve, and succeeded in obtaining a royal land grant.  (Craig S. Smith, "In Canada, Feeling ‘Robbed’ of Indian Identity, and Benefits, "The New York Times, December 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/world/canada/canada-indian-status.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0).

        "The 'Canada Brand': Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America," Cultural Survival, November 28, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/canada-brand-violence-and-canadian-mining-companies-latin-america, reported, "In October 2016, The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) published a r eport documenting incidents of violence associated with Canadian mining companies in Latin America. This study is the first of its kind, compiling information over a span of 15 years from 14 countries in South and Central America about violence associated with Canadian mining companies. With 41% of the large mining companies in Latin America being Canadian, it shows that a lack of accountability that these companies take for their actions abroad to be extremely problematic. Neither the Canadian government nor the industry itself are recorded to be tracking or reporting on violent incidents which affect Indigenous Peoples, and all people, throughout Latin American Countries.
Mining around the world often intrudes on Indigenous lands, and has since times of colonization. JCAP’s report identified 28 Canadian companies involved in these issues, and reported on at least 10 detailed conflicts in which Indigenous people were victims of violence and criminalization stemming from a mining corporation. From the 14 countries that were analyzed, there were 44 deaths overall, 30 of which were labeled as "targeted." There were also 403 injuries, occurring in events such as protests and confrontations related to the mining, 709 cases of criminalization, and a widespread geographical distribution of documented violence in all countries. Deaths, injuries, warrants, and arrests specific to Indigenous People in relation to Canadian mines occurred in 8 of the 12 countries and 73% of the women who were recorded as being sexually assaulted as a result of the Canadian mining corporations were Indigenous. Data shows however, that the Canadian companies from this study reported on only 24.2% of the total deaths and 12.3% of the injuries that were documented in the report.
The actual extent of violence and repression at Canadian mines in Latin America is likely even much higher than what is detailed in this report, but due to the broad focus on this piece, as well as inconsistencies in media reports of Indigenous identity, this report was unable to make definitive remarks on the full extent of the impact on Indigenous Peoples. The report focuses on violence and criminalization setting aside environmental, and health concerns due to mining as a separate issue. The authors noted that additional reports of deaths, injuries, and other abuses also surfaced during the investigation, but could not be included based on the methodology. However, this report had crucial findings for the Indigenous People in Latin America who have long been fighting Canadian mining companies. The impact of these the Canadian mining industry has been devastating and largely under-reported. Cultural Survival has covered one controversial mine in Guatemala for over a decade- Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine, located in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, has been the site of deaths, intimidation, criminalization, prostitution, and the slow poisoning of an entire Indigenous community. Scheduled to finally complete the extraction of gold in 2017, plans for environmental remediation of the area and unclear and underfunded. Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine has repeatedly violated human rights and has been called on to close operations by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the International Labor Organization, the Catholic Church, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, multiple advocacy organizations both locally and internationally, and even the president of Guatemala.
Hudbay’s Fenix mine is another example of the wrongful treatment of Indigenous People, with little to no reparations from the Canadian Government. This mine is located on Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ territory in Guatemala. Its development in the 1960s immediately led to the violent displacement of Indigenous communities with numerous reports of indecent treatment of the Indigenous People surrounding it. In 2004, Skye Resources purchased the mine and in 2008, Hudbay Minerals conveniently purchased Skye Resources. It is reported that during this time, 11 Indigenous women were gang raped during a particularly violent eviction. Other confrontations in 2009 led to one recorded death, and at least 12 separate recorded injuries. It was reported that homes were also burned to the ground during the evictions and a community leader of the time was dragged into the compound of Hudbay’s subsidiary, CGN, and murdered by the head of security of CGN. The head of security was arrested and as of 2016 is finally being tried in Guatemala. Hudbay, however, denied most of the claims and made no reparations to the Maya Q’eqchi, claiming that none of the evictions were violent. They also insisted that protesters were the attackers and targeted a government vehicle on Hudbay property, stating that several employees were injured and a protester died as a result of his gunshot wound later in the day. The Canadian company refused responsibility and kept little records of damages done in this case, as well as all of the others in this report. In fact, a large majority of incidents are undisclosed by Canadian parent companies, and when companies disregard violence related to their mining projects, the language used often lightens or inadequately explains the extent of the injuries suffered. Company reporting for the entire study was inadequate and official government reporting was either minimal or inaccessible.
This lack of accountability is an issue common throughout Canadian companies’ operations overseas. Laws in Canada requiring companies’ disclosure of information are lax. Compared to United States Laws, Canadian companies are required to disclose less, and on top of that, enforcement is also not rigorous. This allows for the most corrupt mining companies to keep quiet on violence related to their projects.
Global Organizations such as the UN have been calling for Canadian companies to be accountable for their operations overseas for years. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights notes that the responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard and is expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate. It exists regardless of States’ ability or eagerness to fulfil their own human rights obligations, and does not diminish those obligations.
The Inter American Commission on Human Rights has held three hearings on the accountability of Canadian mining companies and called on Canada to adopt measures to prevent multiple human rights violations. The Canadian government, however, continues to point to voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) codes to measure company conduct. CSR codes suffer from deep structural problems related to the fact that they are voluntary and unenforceable. They have no mechanism for investigation, companies cannot be sanctioned and victims cannot be compensated. Their main power is to recommend the withdrawal of the Canadian government’s financial support. This however, has yet to be done and the current CSR Counsellor’s website shows no indication of any investigations, disputes, dialogues or any engagement with specific conflicts, and has no form of an annual report.
   These facts are devastating but perhaps not shocking. Antagonism with Canadian mines have been a part of Indigenous Peoples struggle for years. In January of 2011, at the request of Mexico’s Wixärika people, Cultural Survival aided in a campaign to stop a Canadian company from building a silver mine in the sacred Wirikuta Natural and Cultural Reserve. The campaign was a success after receiving 2,748 international letters in one week. The Mexican senate urged the ministry of the economy to exhaustively review the 22 concessions granted to the Canadian mining company and to issue a public report. The secretary of the environment and natural resources was to publically release the environmental impact study that was carried out, including the protected Wirikuta reserve.    Later, after much public mobilization, a moratorium was issued on mining in Wirikuta.
There have been multiple calls to the Canadian Government to regulate mining industry, but the Canadian government has argued it does not assume any legal responsibility for the activities of Canadian mining companies abroad.
According to MiningWatch in Canada, in April of 2016, 180 Latin American organizations sent in a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to take measures to prevent systemic harms and ensure that affected peoples and communities have access to justice for the many harms taking place. Among other things, the letter to Prime Minister Trudeau calls for measures to ensure respect for the decisions of numerous communities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who have said no to large-scale mining because of its severe and damaging impacts on the environment and social well-being. The letter also called for measures to ensure effective access to Canadian courts. In Guatemala alone, an estimated 1 million people have voted against mining on their lands and in their territories given the negative impacts that have been felt around Canadian held projects, such as Goldcorp’s Marlin mine and Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. "The situation for land and environment defenders in Guatemala and Latin America is progressively getting more and more dangerous. It is absolutely urgent that the Canadian government respond to the demands," noted Lisa Rankin for the Breaking the Silence Maritimes-Guatemala Solidarity Network.
NGOs have been working long and hard to make these reporting gaps known to shareholders and the general public. A large part of mining companies’ funding comes from Canadian citizens whose assets are invested via several institutions, particularly banks, mutual funds and public pension plans. For now, campaigns to divest from these companies may be the most direct way Canadians and others can make their voices heard.
The following companies are listed on and have bad track record for respecting Indigenous Peoples rights in Latin America: GoldCorp: GG (NYSE), Barrick: ABX (NYSE), Hudbay HBM (NYSE), First Majestic Silver: AG (NYSE), Taseko: TGB (NYSE), Tahoe Resources: TAHO (NYSE), Oceana Gold: Toronto Stock Exchange: OGC."

      A concerted effort to restore tradition at the Lac Seul First Nation community in Ontario has been accompanied by a rise in graduation rates and drops in substance abuse and suicide rates, not experienced in nearby communities with similar demographics, which had not undertaken such an effort (Dylan C. Robertson, "Deploying culture against suicide: Indigenous traditions make a difference in remote Canada," Christian Science Monitor Weekly, September 5, 2016).

      The Blood Tribe of Alberta succeeded in significantly reducing substance abuse, including moving from 35 deaths from fentanyl deaths in 2015 to none in 2016, by taking a strong, multipronged, approach. To meet ill effects of fentanyl use, well equipped emergency kits with instructions were placed everywhere on the reserve where it was thought the drug might be used. A pair of confidential hotlines were installed, one to help addicts quit, the other to report traffickers. The tribal recovery program includes making available the opioid suboxone, to chemically help addicts be weaned off more dangerous drugs, while including psychological and cultural aspects of the program. The latter encompasses recovering addicts at weekly meetings making and decorating smudge boxes appropriately for their own spiritual practice that they take home for regular prayer. The police engage in harm reduction as well as in making raids and arrests. Parents suspected of harboring drug dealers are given multiple warnings before being raided, to encourage the parents to act, and to keep families together. During traffic stops, officers only confiscate used syringes, paying no attention to safer new ones (Dylan C. Robinson, "The Tribe that beat back an opiate Christian Science Monitor Weekly, August 15 & 22, 2016).

     ICG, "Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration," Latin American and Caribbean Report No. 57, July 28, 2016, https://www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/central-america/easy-prey-criminal-violence-and-central-american-migration, commented, " Massive deportations from Mexico and the U.S. have failed to stem the tide of Central Americans fleeing endemic poverty combined with epidemic violence. Stepped up enforcement has diverted undocumented migration into more costly, circuitous and dangerous channels. Criminal gangs and the corrupt officials who enable them are the beneficiaries of a policy that forces desperate people to pay increasing sums to avoid detention, extortion or kidnapping. Beefed-up border control inadvertently fuels human smuggling and fortifies criminal gangs that increasingly control that industry. Governments must guarantee those fleeing violence the opportunity to seek asylum through fair, efficient procedures, while launching a major regional effort to provide security and economic opportunity in home countries. Central American leaders, especially in the northern triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, must in turn address chronic insecurity more effectively while monitoring and assisting those deported, especially children and adolescents, so they have an option other than fleeing again.
The humanitarian crisis of 2014, when the U.S. struggled to cope with a surge of undocumented migrants, especially unaccompanied children, was never resolved. It was just pushed southwards . In fiscal year 2015, Mexico returned 166,000 Central Americans, including some 30,000 children and adolescents, while the U.S. deported over 75,000. But the Mexican government’s capacity to control the flow of migrants and refugees is reaching its limit. Many see Mexico as their destination, not just the country they cross in transit to the U.S. Asylum petitions have more than doubled, straining capacity to process them fairly and efficiently. Though the acceptance rate has increased in 2016, it remains inadequate to protect the men, women and children whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the criminals who dominate many impoverished communities.
Migrants from both Mexico and the northern triangle of Central America (NTCA) region have long fled poverty to seek a better life abroad, sending home remittances that are a major source of foreign exchange and a crucial prop for their home countries’ economies. However, Mexico and the U.S. treat what is now in large part a violence-driven refugee crisis as if it were still solely an economic migration problem. Many victimized today by economic deprivation and social exclusion also face persecution by organized criminal groups, from neighbourhood gangs to transnational drug traffickers. Forced displacement is increasingly widespread, as violence reaches civil-war levels. About 150,000 people have been killed in the NTCA since 2006, an average of more than 50 homicides per 100,000, more than triple the rate in Mexico (where killings have soared since 2007) and more than ten times the U.S. average.
El Salvador became the most violent country in the western hemisphere in 2015 with a staggering murder rate of 103 per 100,000 people, while Honduras suffered 57 per 100,000 and Guatemala 30 per 100,000. Young people are the most vulnerable to violence, as both perpetrators and victims. The proportion of homicide victims under age twenty in El Salvador and Guatemala is higher than anywhere else in the world. No wonder that 35,000 children and adolescent migrants were detained in Mexico in 2015, nine times more than in 2011.
Those escaping violence at home are targeted again as they flee. Ideal victims, many have relatives who can be stung for ransom payments; lacking legal status, they are less likely than locals to report serious crimes like assault, extortion or kidnapping. They are also vulnerable to trafficking: the sex industry along the Mexican/Guatemalan border is largely driven by supply of migrants, especially adolescents, some of whom are held in virtual debt bondage to traffickers. A recent study, estimating that for every reported case there were 30 hidden victims, put sexually-exploited victims in Guatemala alone at nearly 50,000.
Guatemala has acted against human trafficking, including creating a special prosecutorial unit that, however, lacks staff and resources to be effective beyond the capital. Mexico has specialized units to investigate crimes against migrants, including a new one in the federal prosecutor’s office, but lack of information and resources again hampers efforts. Prosecutors should work with migrant shelters and other NGOs to encourage violent crime and official abuse victims to come forward, with guarantees of humanitarian protection and financial aid.
The region already has relatively robust legal frameworks to protect refugees: the countries of Central and North America either signed the 1951 convention on refugees or its 1967 protocol and have asylum systems in place. Mexico has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect refugees: its diplomats promoted the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, which expands the definition to those fleeing "generalized violence". To offer effective protection, however, capacity must be expanded to process asylum requests quickly and fairly. The countries should also refrain when possible from holding asylum-seekers in detention, which can deter those most in need – families and unaccompanied children – from seeking help.
Mexico cannot shoulder the refugee problem alone; genuine regional sharing of responsibility is essential. Guatemala must also provide better safety and shelter to those in transit and combat human trafficking. The U.S. should step up legal, economic, medical and psychosocial support for international agencies, government institutions and local NGOs that work with refugees. Despite unabashed hostility from some political sectors to migration from Central America and Mexico, it should explore bringing more refugees, especially children, directly to the U.S., so they avoid a dangerous journey, and consider temporarily halting deportations of youths who risk becoming victims or members of gangs. Erecting more barriers and forcing migrants and refugees further underground has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, strengthening the illegal networks that have turned much of Central America into a criminal battleground.
To protect the lives and rights of Central American migrants
To the government of Mexico:
Recognize that migrants, especially children and families, must not be returned to Central American communities where their lives and freedom could be in danger; so expand the capacity of the Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to evaluate asylum petitions, based on the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1984 Cartagena Declaration, as incorporated in Mexican law.
Work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to implement protocols allowing migration agents and other government officials to seek out those needing protection, especially in border areas and migrant detention centres.
Provide alternatives to detention in consultation with civil society and community leaders, so families seeking refugee status can remain together and vulnerable groups – such as unaccompanied minors, women and lesbian, gay, bi- trans- or inter-sexual (LGBTI) individuals – receive adequate assistance and protection.
Offer "Visitor for Humanitarian Reasons" status, commonly known as humanitarian visas, to applicants for asylum, allowing them to accept formal employment and move freely within the country.
End the impunity of criminals and corrupt officials who target migrants by:
working with humanitarian agencies, shelters, and other NGOs to protect migrants who have been victims of or witnesses to violent crime, abuse or corruption, encouraging them to report crimes and serve as witnesses and informing them of their right to humanitarian parole and protection; and
expanding special state and federal prosecutorial units to investigate crimes against migrants, and working with shelters and human rights groups to identify victims of violent crime or official abuse; such units should also work closely with state special prosecutors for migrants and the federal organized crime unit, prioritizing and monitoring the investigation of official corruption and violent crime, such as kidnapping.
To the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador:

Provide adequate support for and monitoring of deported migrants, especially children, including security and enhanced screening to identify and provide follow-up aid to those needing particularly education and job opportunities.Work with the UNHCR to establish in-country centres in Mexico and other transit and destination countries, where those fleeing violence can petition for refugee recognition and be screened for third-country resettlement.Expand prosecutorial capacity in Guatemala to investigate human trafficking for sexual exploitation, especially in border areas; and work with shelters and human rights groups to encourage Central American victims of trafficking networks to report abuse.
Protect trafficking victims from involuntary deportation, providing resettlement assistance and counselling when necessary; and reunite children and adolescents with their families, if feasible, or refer them to specialized institutions able to provide the required medical and psychosocial care.
To the government of the U.S.:Step up and expand in-country processing for refugee status or humanitarian parole of Central Americans with protection needs, particularly minors; explore accelerating the asylum process; and give adequate shelter to those awaiting decisions.Work with the UNHCR to establish processing centres in Mexico and Central America so that those forcibly displaced can seek U.S. refugee recognition from the safety of neighboring countries. Give COMAR financial help and training, especially to expand regional offices; and set up mobile units along the border and migration routes. Assist Mexican authorities and NGOs with programs to help integrate refugees, including initiatives to help them find health care, training, employment and psychosocial support, when necessary.Address the push factors that impel Central Americans to leave the northern triangle by extending support for the Alliance for Prosperity for five years, with targeted programs to address community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty. Help regional governments replicate effective community-based violence prevention programs, partner with the private sector to create jobs and undertake police and justice sector reforms like those exemplified by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.
Halt deportation of undocumented youths by offering Temporary Protected Status (TPS) until countries of origin have effective education and job training programs; and provide resources to that end, so as to avoid sending them back to violent neighbourhood where they risk forced gang recruitment."

      Tracy Barnett for Intercontinental Cry, " Wixarika Take a Stand: An Indigenous Community Gears Up To Take Back the Land from Mexican Ranchers," Cultural Survival, September 22, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/wixarika-take-stand-indigenous-community-gears-take-back-land-mexican-ranchers , reported, " A contingent of at least 1,000 Indigenous Wixárika (Huichol) people in the Western Sierra Madre are gearing up to take back their lands after a legal decision in a decade-long land dispute with neighboring ranchers who have held the land for more than a century.
Ranchers who have been in possession of the 10,000 hectares in question for generations say the seizure is unlawful and that they will not hand over the land — setting the scene for a showdown that observers fear may end in violence.
Leaders of the Wixárika community of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlán have announced their plans to accompany the authorities of the federal agricultural tribunal to carry out an enforcement action on the first parcel, a 184-hectare ranch in the state of Nayarit, on Sept. 22, and called on state and federal law enforcement officials to send police forces to prevent a conflict. Until the time of publication, neither the Nayarit nor the federal authorities had agreed to send police to maintain order, so both parties are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
'We’re hoping they’ll accept the decision which is now law: that they lost the trial. They had the opportunity to legally prove that they really had the documentation and they didn’t have it,' said Miguel Vázquez Torres, president of the communal lands commission of San Sebastian. He is aware of the potential for violence, he said, 'but the community is not going to sit with its hands crossed. We are prepared.'
Ranchers have titles to the land that go back to the early 1900s — but San Sebastian has the original grant from the Spanish crown that dates to 1717, and is backed by a 1953 presidential resolution. In all, 10,000 hectares is at stake, for a total of 47 different claims. The agrarian court has ruled in favor of San Sebastian in 13 of those cases; the remainder are still in process.
Rosa Carmen Dominguez Macarty, an attorney representing some of the ranchers of Huajimic, disputes the version presented by Wixarika attorneys, saying that only two of the sentences are definitive, and that all the rest are still under appeal. The ranchers are appealing the 1953 presidential resolution, saying it is based on a document that is invalid.
'It’s a social injustice,' she said. 'These are very simple people; they are fathers, they are mothers who work the land themselves, and that’s how they support their families. It would be really sad if through the government’s disregard, something unpleasant were to happen.'
Vázquez said that two families who have no land have already been granted permission by the community assembly to establish homesteads on the parcel and that the assembly plans to send a rotating contingent of community residents to stand guard for several months — 'as long as it’s necessary so that the families can feel safe and comfortable.' The long-term plan, he said, is to establish another settlement in the area, as San Sebastian’s existing towns are becoming overcrowded.
Dominguez argued that the local inhabitants have worked the land for generations and turned it into a highly productive area. Local residents suspect the Huicholes have another ulterior motive for taking back the land, which they have never worked: to exploit the mineral deposits that supposedly lie beneath.
Complicating matters is that San Sebastian lies in the state of Jalisco, while the contested land lies in Nayarit, where the ranchers have been outspoken in their opposition to the court decision and have been organizing in resistance to the return of the land to the Wixárika.
'Jalisco vs. Nayarit: Blood will run,' screamed one headline in a Nayarit newspaper. Meanwhile, Nayarit Gov. Roberto Sandoval reportedly has sent messages of support to ranchers.
'The governor promised us that while he is in office, we would not have to turn over a single meter of land to the Huichols,' one of the landowners told local reporter Agustín Del Castillo of Milenio newspaper.
Indeed, it’s no accident that the conflict crosses state lines, according to anthropologist Paul Liffman, author of the book Huichol Territory and the Mexican Nation.
'In fact that’s the deep history of Jalisco and Nayarit,' Liffman said in a recent interview. 'Nayarit was part of Jalisco, and it separated in 1917, in part for the ranchers who wanted more political autonomy and also wanted to kick out the Indians.'
During the early years of the 20th century, the government encouraged settlers to make land claims on apparently abandoned land. It was during that period that major encroachment began to occur on Wixárika land, and the courts granted titles based on the erroneous assumption (or pretext, as Liffman says) that the land was unoccupied.
Tensions have flared periodically since the land was taken but the Wixárika had no legal recourse until the government created an agrarian court system in the 1990s, said Ruben Avila Tena, the attorney representing the community of San Sebastian. Soon afterwards that community began a legal process of reclaiming its land.
Jalisco law enforcement has agreed to be present, but only up to the state line; thus far the Wixárika leadership has received no such assurances from the Nayarit authorities, nor from the federal government.
'I’m not sure what the Jalisco police can do, besides cheering them on from the other side of the border,' commented Avila Tena. 'It’s actually a very worrisome situation.'
Avila said sources in the Agrarian Tribunal have told them that the Nayarit police have no intention of supporting the Wixárika on Sept. 22. Agrarian Magistrate Aldo Saul Muñoz López spoke to this reporter by telephone but said he could not grant an interview by telephone, only in person in the Tribunal regional offices in Tepic, Nayarit.
'We did what corresponds to us as a federal tribunal, we notified all of the relevant authorities of Nayarit. If they don’t respond, it’s something that escapes my authority,' said Muñoz López, but would not give further information by phone.
Liffman likened the current conflict in San Sebastian with one that arose in the 1950s under the Huichol leader Pedro de Haro. Haro built a movement that ultimately procured the 1953 presidential resolution confirming that San Sebastian was the legal owner of the land. But as in the present case, the government didn’t provide any enforcement mechanism, and the local residents refused to give up the land. A band of armed Huichols took the matter into their own hands and marched to the Canyon of Camotlán, where they reportedly burned down a farm, drove out local residents and reclaimed the land.
Santos de la Cruz Carrillo, a Wixárika leader and also an attorney on San Sebastian’s legal team, said the community has been urging the federal authorities to attend to this case for five years under a program that would offer financial compensation to the current landholders.
'It’s been five years since the community of San Sebastian asked the federal government to attend to this situation, to support the landholders with compensation', said de la Cruz. 'But the ranchers showed no interest in the compensation; they always said they want the land, so the community chose to take possession.'
Finally, in a meeting in March of this year, an official with that program told San Sebastian authorities that there was no money to pay restitution to the ranchers. That’s when they made the decision to move ahead with the process of retaking the lands, said Avila.
The Wixárika authorities have done everything in their power to seek compensation for the ranchers in the hope that a conflict could be avoided, said Avila. 'This case was decided in their favor more than two years ago,' he stressed. 'The community didn’t want it to be enforced like this, they were trying to get the federal government to indemnify the landholders. When they couldn’t do that anymore, they said, it can’t be helped, we will have to ask the tribunal to enforce the law.'
Liffman warned that the situation was not to be taken lightly; the area has changed radically since the times of Pedro de Haro, he said, with a significant amount of drug production now occurring throughout the territory.
'The region has become much more heavily armed," he said. 'San Sebastian has been the most violently disputed area in the sierra over the past several years…. it’s big-scale transnational narcos now, it’s not just some ranchers with pistols on their belts. So if it does come to that, it could be a bloodbath.'"

       Linda Ferrer, "Victory in the Release of Guatemalan Political Prisoner Rigoberto Juarez ," Cultural Survival, August 05, 2016 , https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/victory-release-guatemalan-political-prisoner-rigoberto-juarez , reported, "July 22, 2016 marked a day of victory, not only for Rigoberto Juarez Mateo , but also for the Indigenous Q’anjob’al Maya community in the municipality of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. In a split decision made by Judges Yasmin Barrios, Patricia Bustamante, and Gerbi Sical, seven Ancestral Authorities, including Rigoberto Juarez, Domingo Baltazar, Ermitano Lopez Reyes, Sotero Adalberto Villatoro, Francisco Juan Pedro, Mynor Lopez, and Arturo Pablo were released from prison, five of whom were acquitted of all charges.
Sixteen months ago, Rigoberto Juarez, one of nine Ancestral Authorities, was detained for his advocacy against two private hydroelectric and mining companies, Hidra Energia and Hidro Santa Cruz, respectively, for their failing to comply and consult with Indigenous communities’ prior to accessing licensure for their projects. Posing a threat to their natural resources, land, and way of life, those who resisted the projects faced threats, coercion, and were sometimes kidnapped, raped, or even murdered. Rigoberto Juarez and Domingo Baltazar, two well-known Indigenous leaders, traveled to Guatemala City to file reports on these various human rights violations to the Department of Public Ministry and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights but both were arrested by police without warrant or charges. They were illegally imprisoned without due process on that day of March 23, 2015. Rigoberto Juarez was placed in High Risk Group A preventive detention center for false accusations in a series of crimes which the private companies claimed against them. Sixteen charges were then made against him, including public disturbances of peaceful demonstrations, kidnapping, and intent to commit crimes. However, the lack of evidence and factual grounds for the heinous charges that were made only indicate that the hydroelectric and mining companies, working with the Mayor and judicial system of Guatemala, strategically organized the persecution and arrest of the community leaders in order to remove their voice and actions from the resistance movement he had begun and committed to since 2008.
  The 'Gobierno Plurinacional,' or the Plurinational Government, represents at least five distinct Mayan communities in Huehuetenango that stand in solidarity for the "defense of territory and life." For sixteen months, the movement’s primary focus was forced to shift from stopping these private companies from infiltrating their village to finding justice in a corrupt judicial system. Despite such setbacks, Rigoberto Juarez was able to empower and mobilize through the community radio station, Snuq Jolom Konob, which was re-inaugurated this year. Now with his release, the Indigenous communities of Guatemala have gained a stronger leader who continues to mobilize his community. But while Rigoberto’s freedom signifies a great overcoming, the Mayan community of Maya Q’anjob’al and others understand that the struggle continues. Free, Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) must be properly implemented and enforced. Government officials must be held accountable for their crimes and the justice system of Guatemala must be reformed to prevent further corruption. Judge Jazmin Barrios, who ordered his release due to the clear indication that he was criminalized for being an outspoken Mayan leader and human rights advocate, has displayed honor and protection for the vulnerable. In a press release from YAJABIL PAYXAILBOM KONOB’ Akateko, Chuj, Popti’, Q’anjob’al, the Ancestral Government of the Akateko, Chuj, Popti and Q’anjob’al Maya Nation in Huehuetenango Guatemala, Judge Barrios was thanked, as well as the Fiscal General and the Director of Public Ministry with the support and assistance of CICIG (International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala), who continue to thwart crimes against humanity. Having been visited by seven Nobel Prize winners this year, Rigoberto Juarez’ release marks a new triumph for human rights activism in Latin America and around the world. On June 30, 2016, hundreds of supporters gathered in Huehuetenango to await and welcome the seven recently released Ancestral Authorities travelling by caravan to express their gratitude and join them in the capital city’s central park for a special Mayan ceremony. On June 31st, the caravan travelled through Chimaltenango, Tecpan, Los Encuentros, Solole, Cumbre de Alaska, San Juan Ixcoy, Santa Eulalia, and Santa Cruz Barillas where hundreds and thousands celebrated and stood in solidarity in the continued fight for their rights; that to defend life, water, earth, and land is not a crime."

       ICG, Arturo Matute, Analyst, Guatemala, "Guatemala: Young Blood, Old Vices," Commentary/Latin America & Caribbean, November 14, 2016, https://www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/central-america/guatemala/guatemala-young-blood-old-vices, commented, " A year after the election of would-be reformer Jimmy Morales as president, corruption investigations are casting a shadow over his inner circle. Recent appointments bring youth and oxygen to his faltering administration, but much still stands in the way of political renewal.
  Guatemala’s would-be reformist President Jimmy Morales won office by a landslide last year by using a simple but effective slogan: "not corrupt, nor a thief". In one of Latin America’s most violent, unequal and impoverished countries, his election was part of an anti-corruption "tsunami" that began in April 2015, led by the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Attorney General’s Office (AG). The racket that emerged in April 2015 in the customs authorities claimed the scalps of high-ranking officials, sparked massive protests throughout the country, and eventually brought down the corruption-plagued administration of former President Otto Pérez Molina, who was jailed promptly after his resignation.
  Pérez Molina’s former vice president, most of his cabinet, scores of politicians and many prominent businesspeople now face trial in connections to the customs fraud and a barrage of ensuing cases. As a result, Guatemala stands at a crossroads. Either it continues the unprecedented anti-corruption actions, or falls back into the vice-ridden past where illicit networks sought to embezzle, defraud, bribe and extort public money for private gain, with no adverse consequences.
  The past year proved how emboldened institutions are now willing to use legal prosecution to disentangle the state and political parties from criminal groups. Guatemala’s capacity to bring to justice officials who had previously enjoyed complete impunity represented an unexpected revolution in national life. The country is still reeling from the shock of this change, and the outcome of this process is far from certain. "Justice doesn’t change states on its own, it just contributes to identify what ails them" warns CICIG commissioner, and centerpiece of the judicial campaign, Colombian investigative judge Iván Velásquez.
  President Jimmy Morales, an outsider who gained fame as a TV comedian, broke with a relatively long tradition of Guatemalan politics in winning by 67.4 percent of the vote in the second round of the 2015 elections even though he was not the runner-up in the previous presidential contest, nor the greatest spender in the campaign. Manuel Baldizón, the candidate in question on both counts, fled the country after a poor showing in the first round, allegedly to escape the wrath of his many financial backers.
  However, Morales is now struggling to differentiate his government from that of his predecessors. A new joint CICIG and AG investigation into corruption in the National Registry of Property (NRP) has enveloped Samuel 'Sammy' Morales, the president’s older brother and a close adviser, and José Manuel Morales, his son. The two men allegedly presented an invoice in 2013 to the NRP for US$12,000 for an event that never took place. They are barred from leaving the country during the investigation.
  The case illustrates the slow pace of change in Guatemala. While the modes and networks of corruption have been disturbed, structural conditions of poverty and inequality, as well as rates of violent crime, remain far above the global or Latin American average. Recent death threats against Attorney General Thelma Aldana and the judge handling the main corruption cases are the most sinister side of this anti-reform backlash: Aldana had to leave the country for a month, but the threats have reportedly continued since her return.
  The Guatemalan Congress modified the electoral law in April 2016 and introduced stronger controls over financing of political parties. It also passed laws to strengthen the autonomy of the attorney general and create a much-delayed institute for victims of crime. But critics point out that the initiatives have been hastily patched together to assuage popular demands for reform, and are riddled with inconsistencies. They argue that more stringent rules are needed to ensure internal democracy within parties to prevent them from being controlled by strongmen, or to allow for start-up parties such as 'Seed Group' (Grupo Semilla), 'Justice Now' (Justicia Ya) and 'We Are' (Somos) to get a foothold in the party system.
  Even though many of these recent achievements are impressive, frustration has festered among many of the civil society groups that drove the anti-corruption mobilization last year. Most of the lawmakers elected in 2015 conform to the traditional way of doing politics in Guatemala, described in a report published by CICIG as a system where "the money that comes from corruption [to finance political parties] is increased by resources contributed by criminal organisations, which achieve dangerous influence and, in certain localities, control over authorities". Recent efforts by the president to secure control of Congress’ governing board have been sharply criticized for relying on deputies with shady pasts.
  Evidently, President Morales has not become the anti-corruption crusader that many voters wished for. His anti-establishment stance still lacks a clear plan to clean up political life and to broaden the state’s measly provision of basic services. His effort to improve state finances by raising what are Latin America’s lowest tax rates was badly planned and rejected by most sectors of society. The shadow of the so-called military ' juntita' – a clique of former army officers who came into power with him – hangs over his administration and undermines his credibility as a political outsider. His call on foreign states not to intervene in Guatemalan judicial matters, presumably under the advice of juntita members bitter at international support for cases against human rights violations during the armed conflict, has also been questioned by international bodies. Falling asleep during the presentation of the 2017 budget has not helped his public image.
  However, a counter-reformist backlash is unlikely. The traditional powerful actors who dominated Guatemala’s post-conflict democracy and might seek a return to the old order have lost the initiative and lack an agenda. The army is no longer a preeminent political force, and would be very reluctant to join an anti-reform effort that would face fervent opposition from citizens and international opprobrium. Opposition from the private sector has also weakened. The head of the main business association and a former fortress of political power, the Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations (CACIF), recently pledged the private sector would continue to support the anti-corruption campaign, even if it harms its members. Another new constituency vocally supporting reform is an engaged and critical middle class making use of new outlets in cable television, online newspapers and radio.
  At the same time, some of Morales’ high-level appointments have pumped oxygen into his faltering administration. One of them is Francisco Rivas, a lawyer who ascended through the ranks of the prosecution service leading investigations that produced the arrests of major drug traffickers – earning him the trust of the attorney general, the CICIG and U.S. security agencies. Rivas is now providing the operational back-up to their investigations, which was not always forthcoming in previous administrations.
  Another fresh face is the current Health Minister Lucrecia Hernández, daughter of Myrna Mack, an anthropologist murdered by a military death squad in 1990 due to her work with communities displaced by the conflict. Hernández and her aunt, Helen Mack, have carried out a decades-long struggle for justice in the case and created the Myrna Mack Foundation, one of Guatemala’s leading human rights organisations. Waging a complicated battle against entrenched corruption in the health ministry, Hernández confronts an acute crisis of medical supplies in hospitals.
  Juan Francisco Solórzano Foppa, for his part, was allegedly blackballed by the military juntita and prevented from joining Rivas in the interior ministry, but has since become another member of Morales’ young bloods after his appointment as chief of the Guatemalan Tax Bureau (SAT). He worked for thirteen years in the Attorney General’s Office, where he carried out investigations against street gangs and undertook the wiretap recordings that helped bring down the Pérez government. "Foppa" developed a reputation of fearlessness, and in his new role has taken on large firms formerly considered untouchable, such as the steel works "Aceros de Guatemala", the soft drinks firm "Big Cola" and the drugstore chain "Farmacias Galeno", which during his first three months in his job returned over US$110 million in unpaid taxes.
  But Guatemala needs more than new faces in politics to right the wrongs of the old establishment. International backing is fundamental in this effort, and unless the Republican president-elect’s campaign against undocumented migration affects other areas of policy in Central America when he takes power in 2017, U.S. support seems reliably strong.
  The U.S. remains the region’s geopolitical hegemon, and regards the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) as one of its national security priorities, largely due to the stream of migrants and refugees fleeing the region’s poverty and violence. Guatemala is exemplary in enjoying bipartisan U.S. support in its anti-corruption crusade and is a beneficiary of the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle of Central America, which will significantly increase cooperation funding.
  Extraordinarily, the actions of the U.S. in Guatemala are regarded as welcome even by individuals personally harmed by its earlier Cold War interventions. The "holy trinity" of the U.S. embassy, the attorney general, and the CICIG, as certain wits brand it, has been fundamental to the high-level corruption cases and reform plans in the fields of justice, politics and the constitution as a whole. Allies of the U.S. government in Guatemala are also changing, as reflected by the absence of some of its usual political associates during independence day celebrations in July 2016: most of those present were less prominent civil society activists and academics.
The strengthening justice system, new initiatives for political reform processes and support from an activist citizenry and the international community provide President Morales with exceptional opportunities to turn his campaign slogan into the new identity of the Guatemalan state. If properly implemented, reforms to the electoral law and the subsequent constitutional amendments may go a long way to cleaning up politics, but the construction of a new political party system is a challenge that must be dealt with head on. Rules must be simplified so that new groups, composed primarily of young people, are able to participate. These new political actors should hopefully be able to overcome the divisions of the past and the injustices in Guatemala society. There is a long road to travel, but the journey has at least begun."

      An international arbitration panel, The International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, at the World Bank, decided, in November, that El Salvador did not have to pay the gold mining firm, Pac Rim Cayman, for lost profits for denying it a mining permit, accepting the government’s argument that the firm did not meet all the requirements to receive the permit (Elisabeth Malkin, El Salvador Wins Dispute Over Denying a Mining Permit," The New York Times, October 15, 2016).

     Francis Robles, "Nicaragua Dispute Over Indigenous Land Erupts in Wave of Killings," The New York Times, October 16, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/world/americas/nicaragua-dispute-over-indigenous-land-erupts-in-wave-of-killings.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0, reported," Indigenous communities all over Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast say they are under attack by settlers who have taken over their ancestral lands.
Thousands of Nicaraguans have moved into the lush tropical rain forests that are home to the country’s nearly 180,000 indigenous Miskito people. The newcomers — called 'colonists' by the Miskito — have been lured by the promise of gold and the abundance of lucrative timber. Some of the settlers have also been forced from their lands by drought.'"
" With the law on their side, and a bitter history of war, the Miskitos sometimes pushed back, confronting the settlers with large groups of people. The settlers responded with a vengeance, raiding indigenous towns.
One indigenous village was burned to the ground. At least 600 indigenous people have fled to neighboring Honduras, where they live in dirt and squalor, advocates say. The killings of at least 30 Miskitos have been documented; the settlers say at least 80 farmers have also been killed, but have been unable to provide a list of names.
During a recent visit to Francia Sirpi, a remote community several hours’ drive from the coast, more than a dozen indigenous men showed off gunshot wounds they had received from attacks while fishing or hunting. One teenager lost a leg. In December, three communities were attacked in a single day, with two men killed. Three others were kidnapped that day and have not been seen since.
Now the men patrol the far-flung indigenous communities with homemade weapons."

     "Criminalization Continues in Huehuetenango," Cultural Survival, November 28, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/criminalization-continues-huehuetenangom reported, "On Wednesday, October 26th, another human rights defender was arrested in Guatemala. Domingo Francisco Cristobal was captured on his way home from a peaceful demonstration in the city of Huehuetenango by members of the Special Investigative Crime Division of the Guatemalan police. Traditional Indigenous community leaders, as part of the Plurinational Ancestral Government of the Akateko, Chuj, Popti’ and Q’anjobal Maya Nations, denounced the arrest in a press release.
The issuing of arrest warrants and unjust detainment of Indigenous community authorities and environmental and human rights defenders has been an ongoing problem in Guatemala, especially in Indigenous communities in northern Huehuetenango, termed "ungovernable" by Guatemalan state authorities. The region also holds some of the highest levels of extreme poverty in the country, while being rich in mineral and water resources.
According to statistics from UDEGEGUA, in 2015 there were 493 cases of reported violence against human rights and environmental defenders in Guatemala. Of which, 13 human rights defenders were murdered, 8 attempted murder, 92 cases of torture and 159 cases of criminalization. Indigenous human rights defenders are especially targeted. In 2014 Indigenous human rights and environmental defenders were 8 times more likely to be killed for their work than non-Indigenous defenders, according to data from Global Witness.
Domingo Franciso Cristobal is a recognized defender of individual and collective human rights. He is a coordinator of the Payx Yajawil Jolom Knob, an ancestral authority of Santa Eulalia, Guatemala. He is also the president of two community groups, the Consejo Asesor Indigena and the Asociacion Pro-Justicia and according to the Ancestral Government, is involved in many projects for the benefit of the Maya Q’anjobal people and the Maya people in general.
In a press release, the traditional leaders demanded the immediate cancellation of all of the existing arrest warrants against community leaders, and human right defenders, and humanitarian workers. They also demanded the immediate cancelation of licenses authorized by the government of Guatemala for mega-projects in Q’anjob’al territory, including mining, dams, and specifically the Hidro Santa Cruz dam project, Promoción de Desarrollo Hídrico in San Mateo Ixtatán and Hidroeléctrica San Luís in Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. These companies, the authorities explain, 'Rather than bring development, have caused conflict and numerous human rights violations in our territory, including the unjust incarceration and numerous arrest warrants.'"

     "Fifth Radio Journalist Killed in Guatemala in 2016, Cultural Survival, June 28, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/fifth-radio-journalist-killed-guatemala-2016, reported, "The freedom of expression movement in Guatemala is once again in mourning due to the brutal murder of radio journalist Alvaro Alfredo Aceituno Lopez. Aceituno Lopez, age 64, was shot in the city of Coatepeque in southeastern Guatemala at 4pm on June 25, 2016. The shooting took place at the Callejon de la Radio, located in the San Antonio Colony, zone 1 of Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango, beside the Alvaro Arzu avenue. Estuardo Ruiz, a member of the Red Cross of Guatemala, stated that Aceituno Lopez died late Saturday night in the hospital due to the severity of his injuries.
Aceituno Lopez was a journalist and director of the local radio station, Radio Ilusión. As director of the radio station, he led a news program called Acontecer Coatepecano. The slogan of this broadcast he directed was labeled: If you do not say it, who will? The broadcast promoted community rights, and focused primarily on significant issues in the surrounding Coatepeque community such as health, education, public safety, and the role of public administration.
The National Police has not revealed any names of suspects or the attacker's motive, however according to eyewitness testimonies, it is clear that this was a direct and calculated attack against Alvaro Alfredo Aceituno Lopez. This is the second attack directed towards journalists in this region of Coatepeque in the last three months. On April 17, 2016, William Omar Monterroso Cabrera, a local reporter, was the victim of an armed attack and suffered severe injuries on his left hand. Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has condemned the murder of Aceituno Lopez and has issued a statement urging the government to conduct thorough investigations of the killing. Bokova has stated that "violent crimes must not be allowed to limit media workers’ freedom to carry out their work, which is important for society as a whole."
Counting Aceituno Lopez, five radio journalists have been murdered during the first six months of 2016 in Guatemala. To date, no actions have been made to seek justice for their deaths.
'Cultural Survival denounces this kind of violence against the personal security of radio journalists, against the freedom of expression and against the practice of community media, which are ongoing problems in Guatemala. We demand that the authorities begin timely investigations to determine the whereabouts of those responsible for this heinous criminal act,' said Mark Camp, Cultural Survival deputy executive director.
Radio Journalists Murdered in 2016
Mario Roberto Salazar Jutiapa, March 17, Director of the Estereo Azucar Radio 2016.
Winston Leonardo Cano Tunchez, Escuintla, April 8, Commentator of the La Jefa Radio 2016.
Diego Salomon Esteban Gaspar, Quiche, April 30, Commentator of the Sembrador Radio 2016.
Victor Hugo Valdez Cardona, Chiquimula, June 7, Host of Chiquimula Vision 2016.
Alvaro Alfredo Aceituno Lopez, Quetzaltenango, June 25, Director of Estereo Ilusion 2016."

       Anna Hernandez, "Working Towards Corporate Accountability in Guatemala," Cultural Survival, June 27, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/working-towards-corporate-accountability-guatemala , reported, "As recent high profile corruption cases continue to bring worldwide attention to Guatemala’s government and military institutions, other, less-known human rights cases have been overlooked.
The recent CREOMPAZ case has been a victory in many ways. A case consisting of alleged war crimes committed during the country’s 36 year period of armed conflict, it has recently had enough evidence to move forward. On June 6, 2016, 'a Guatemalan judge ruled that 8 former military officials would face trial on charges of enforced disappearance and crimes against humanity,' announced the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (GHRC). The case reviewed further uncovered evidence about the military base CREOMPAZ. Based in Cobán, Verapaz, the site, previously know as Military Zone 21, is currently used for the training of UN peacekeepers.
The evidence uncovered '565 bodies exhumed from 85 clandestine cemeteries.' In January 2016, 18 high-ranking officials were arrested. According to the New York Times, those arrested included Gen. Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, 83, an army chief of staff, a former military intelligence chief, Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, and one of the generals who forced General Lucas García out in 1982.
Eight others remain fugitives of justice, according to GHRC. The long process will be an important one, finally bringing justice to the crimes of the Guatemala’s past.
As the CREOMPAZ case continues to draw international attention, several international human rights organizations have joined together to bring awareness to lesser known human rights violations in Guatemala.
In June 2015, REPSA, Reforestadora de Palma de Petén S. A., an African palm oil plant, poisoned the Pasión River, killing fish and forcing many fishermen into debt. Following the spill, a Guatemalan court ruled the event an "ecocide" REPSA was ordered to suspend all operations, pending investigation.
'Immediately following the ruling, in September 2015, one of the plaintiffs, Q’eq’chi Mayan schoolteacher Rigoberto Lima Choc, was shot and killed,' says the GHRC.
Cargill, one of largest purchasers of palm oil, has required REPSA to take further action to prevent future violence after the sever contamination. Since, REPSA has published a "Policy on Non-Violence and Intimidation" (Links to the policy in Spanish).
Other organizations, including Friends of the Earth-US, Rainforest Action Network, ActionAid USA, Oxfam America, and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA have reached out to palm oil companies, urging them to denounce the violence and make provisions for human rights within their supply chains. The push from Cargill is one of the first steps, and the hope is that other companies will follow.
Wilmar, another company within the industry has not yet published anything similar. Action is needed from the public: Sign this Friends of the Earth petition today.
In addition to pushing corporations to change their policy, human rights organizations have also brought concerns to a more international platform. "In early June, a letter was presented to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, calling for a statement from the Committee in support of ESC rights defenders and addressing the obligations of States and businesses," says GHRC. As land is consistently abused, negatively affecting Indigenous Communities, organizations worldwide continue to fight for those who defend their rights."

        Teresita Orozco Mendoza, "Ortega Re-elected for Third Term: Indigenous Peoples in Nicaragua Demand Respect for International Indigenous Rights," Cultural Survival, December 16, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/ortega-re-elected-third-term-indigenous-peoples-nicaragua-demand-respect-international, reported, "Daniel Ortega will continue in his third consecutive term as President of Nicaragua after being reelected on November 6, 2016, this time accompanied by his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his Vice-President. Ortega also previously held the presidency of Nicaragua in 1979 as leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN as its Spanish acronym, after supporting a popular revolution against the then dictator Somoza who held power for 45 years.
Today, Ortega is called by his opposition and by many of his former allies in the FSLN as the "new dictator" and criticized for violating Nicaragua’s Constitution. In 2014, Ortega pushed a constitutional reform that removed term limits for the presidency. The Constitution still bars candidates who are relatives, but a decision in the Supreme Court has allowed the husband and wife duo, saying that a spouse does not qualify as a legal relative.
Ortega has also, however, brought in his children as diplomats and advisors. At 71, Ortega has spent the last ten years consolidating power. 'The pacts made with what were some of the major political forces like the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista, the PLC, was what has permitted Ortega to have such a domineering leadership of congress people in his favor, allowing him to change laws and policies in Nicaragua at his whim. He controls the employees of the state, and the rest of the population of Nicaragua through his cronyism and abuse of power,' related Marcos Carmona, legal advisor to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.
Ortega’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples
Nicaragua is home to seven Indigenous ethnicities. In the central Pacific and North regions are the Chorotega, Matagalpa, Sutiaba, and Nahoas Peoples, while the Atlantic coast is home to the Miskitu, Sumu-Mayangna, and Rama Peoples.
A strategic step was taken by the Ortega administration regarding Indigenous rights at the beginning of his mandate in 2007, when Nicaragua voted in favor of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and in 2010 in the ratification of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples the right to be consulted before any development projects take place on their land. But many of these rights have lacked implementation, or as Indigenous leader Lottie Cunningham explained using a Nicaraguan expression, 'are stuck on wet paper.'
Although Ortega hails from Chorotega territory, he does not identify as Indigenous, nor does he demonstrate interest in hearing the demands of the Indigenous communities of Nicaragua. "In almost ten years of his presidency, he has not held a single meeting with Indigenous authorities that have been demanding to be heard," noted Cunningham.
It is important to recognize the historical context of the relationship between the long-time leader and Indigenous communities in the Atlantic coast. After the revolution of 1979, the Sandinista government, under leadership by Ortega during his first political stint, began attempting to incorporate Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast into the revolution. Under the previous Somoza regime, perhaps as the result of neglect rather than a strategized policy, residents of the Nicaraguan Mosquitia lived in relative autonomy from the government. The Sandinista resolve to incorporate the Atlantic Coast into the revolution created resentment on the part of many Atlantic Coast inhabitants who felt that the revolution was not their own, but was imposed upon them by revolutionaries from the country's interior. This resentment was further exacerbated by historical tensions between the Miskitu populations that are Protestant and speak English (as a second language), and the majority of Nicaraguans who live in the interior, who are Catholic and speak Spanish. The Miskito eventually took up arms against the Sandinistas, joining forces at times with the US-backed counter-revolutionary forces, the "Contras."
To appease the Indigenous resistance, in 1987 the FSLN created autonomous regions of the North Atlantic and South Atlantic, known as the RAAN and RAAS. The framework for these autonomous regions was based on a new constitution and Statute on Autonomy, Law 28. But, many argue, it was an autonomy granted with deep strings attached.
Threats to the true autonomy of the Indigenous Peoples have been surging in recent years. There is the invasion of "colonos" or people of non-Indigenous descent moving into Indigenous territories. There are the plans for construction of an Inter-Oceanic canal without the full Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples who would be affected, particularly the Rama. And recently, there was the throwing out of election results after long-time Indigenous leader Brooklyn Rivera won a seat as a congressman in the National Assembly.
Congressman Brooklyn Rivera
The FSLN accused Rivera’s supporters of voter fraud, saying some had voted twice, as well as accusing Rivera of being involved in the sale of autonomous Indigenous land to non-Indigenous residents. But supporters of Rivera’s Indigenous movement, Yatama, dismissed those charges, and demanded respect for the results of their popular vote. Some took to vandalizing a local political office in a display of opposition. Eventually, the Ortega administration decided to respect the original election results and Brooklyn Rivera will take office in 2017.
'My expulsion from congress was used to create divisions within the party. The accusations against me had no basis. Now that I am officially re-elected for Congress by the vote of Indigenous Peoples, I feel vindicated. We will enter into congress following the fight for the defense of the people...The only way to have power in Nicaragua is through the electoral system and through political parties. We need to participate in elections, gain votes, and bring an answer to the demands of the people. Otherwise, we will [be] forced to beg and plead for the whim of governments and parties, and that is not how we can move forward in this fight,' he continued, adding that Yatama is an Indigenous movement, not a political one, but has opted to engage in politics to the end of achieving the el buen vivir for communities.
The majority of natural resources in Nicaragua are found within Indigenous territories, as is the case with the Bosawás Nature Reserve. The Reserve, considered the lungs of Central America and which, for a number of years now, has been devastated by deforestation while government officials look on. 'We the Council of Elders, are not opposed to any particular government or political party; we just want the law to be respected. We are human beings, just like non-Indigenous, but we have our way of life, and our own way of seeing things. We are the stewards of this land and we want that to be respected. Today, as a result of a disrespect of our Indigenous Rights, there is a war between colonos and our people. And this is something that the government is disregarding,' shared Williston Salinas Francis, member of the Elder’s Council of the Miskitu People.
Another member of the Elder’s Council, Simeon Rocha, emphasized 'Those who sell land belonging to Indigenous communities, who destroy the ecosystem, who contaminate the environment, are playing with the life and sustenance of the Indigenous communities, and should be put in jail. But they aren’t put in jail- and why? Because it’s people in the FSLN who are involved.'
Rocha added that the government created an 'Environmental Battalion' with the participation of the Nicaraguan army, but that the forces were used as a mechanism to protect its own interests. "It protects those who are destroying the environment, like Alba Forestal, a logging company that sells and exports precious types of wood growing in Bosawás, the lungs of Central America.'
The perspective of Rocha Castillo is shared as well by Marcos Hoppington, from the National Commission on Land Titling and Demarcation, who was recently quoted in the national newspaper La Prensa saying that Indigenous leaders often have a difficult time obtaining the permits to harvest wood from the Bosawás forest, but when a logger asks to do so accompanied by a letter from Alba Forestal, the government extends an 'expedited permit.'
The Erasure of the Indigenous Peoples of the Central Pacific and North
The Indigenous Peoples of the Central Pacific and North, (PCN) are particularly marginalized from mainstream politics in Nicaragua. Edwin Castro, leader of the FSLN party in congress, referred to them once as a 'utopia'. Humberto Hernández, leader Chorotega and president of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Jinotega, said 'Castro’s characterization shows a lack of respect and disregard for Indigenous Peoples. It reflects the general opinion of what the government does and feels about us.' Hernandez explained that there has been some progress towards recognition of their rights- for example in the protection of their ancestral lands, but at the end of the day, many of the agreements achieved are left unimplemented. Hernandez explains, 'In Jinotega, nothing gets done without the blessing of those above. Our Indigenous community has solicited audiences with State officials regarding the lack of payment for our land taken to create the Apanás reservoir for a dam on Indigenous territory, but there has been no response. This is a clear demonstration of a violation of our authority. As well, we have people posing as title-holders of land on our territory, knowing full well that it is impossible to sell land that was taken illegally… but the government is not concerned about that.'
Abstention as an Act of Civil Disobedience
Miskitu leader Lottie Cunningham explained her reasons for not participating in the election on November 6. 'Personally, I decided not to vote as an act of civil disobedience, because the state of Nicaragua has not complied with the international human rights standards that guarantee respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. What’s more, we don’t trust the Supreme Electoral Council which was contributed to the perpetuity of the Sandinistas by doing them favors. For example, when they denied the issuing of ID cards to Indigenous Peoples who were not members of the government party, among other things.'
Humberto Hernandez also chose not to participate in the election: 'Those who are patriots and good children of the Earth should eminently reject the reelection of a person for the third time consecutively. In Nicaragua, there are many men and women capable of leading our country to its destiny -- not just one man, who operates through influence peddling at the cost of misery and hunger of the people, who uses using the taxes and debt of the masses to allow the few to benefit.'"

        Nika Knight, "Leader of Honduran Campesino Movement Assassinated: Rural Honduran farmer and organizer received death threats for years," Common Dreams , October 19, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/19/leader-honduran-campesino-movement-assassinated, reported, " A prominent Honduran leader of a rural land rights movement was killed on Monday night in what supporters claim was an assassination organized by wealthy landowners.
Jose Angel Flores, president of the Unified Campesinos Movement of the Aguan Valley, or MUCA, had been under police protection since March, teleSUR reported, after the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered the Honduran state to protect him from death threats in 2014.
Former MUCA president Johnny Rivas, who hosts a radio show on the local station Radio Progreso, blamed 'death squads chasing peasant families fighting for land rights' for the murder.
Of Flores' organization, teleSUR wrote: 'MUCA has been on the forefront of alternative food production and economic development projects in the Aguan on land recovered through large-scale land occupations. The movement struggles to strengthen food sovereignty while continuing to demand comprehensive agrarian reform.'
'The situation in the Aguan has been called the most intense agrarian conflict seen in Central America in the last 15 years,' the Latin American outlet added.
Flores was killed in Tocoa, in the northern Honduran department of Colon.
The Spanish-language wire service EPE reported on the details of the attack:
'Comrade Jose Angel Flores was shot dead by four unidentified men when he was leaving a meeting at the collective farm trust," Bajo Aguan's Colon spokesperson Yoni Rivas said.
He added that another companion, identified as Dionisio Silmer George, was wounded in the same shooting that took place at 6:10 pm local time and died at the hospital of Tocoa, in the same department of Colon.
About 150 other activists have been killed so far in the region, the local campesinos organizations told teleSUR .
The battle between landowners and peasant farmers has led to so much bloodshed that people describe Bajo Aguan, where MUCA operates, as 'killing fields.'
'Many illegal mass graves have been discovered in recent years,' teleSUR wrote.
Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, who was assassinated in March, also devoted her life to fighting for land rights. Violence against land defenders is on the rise across Latin America, and Honduras remains one of the most dangerous countries for activists in the world.
'Honduras has turned into a 'no-go zone' for anyone daring to campaign for the protection of the environment. How many more activists have to be brutally murdered before the authorities take effective action to protect them, or even be willing to talk about this crisis?' said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
And the U.S. continues to funnel millions of dollars in military funding to the Honduran government, despite the targeted assassinations and other human rights abuses.
'We are indignant that in the face of the ongoing and documented violence, repression and corruption involving the Honduran government, the U.S. State Department has certified that it is satisfied that the Honduran government has taken effective steps to improve human rights,' grassroots coalition Honduras Solidarity Network said Wednesday. 'This clears the way for $55 million more in U.S. aid.'"

       "Another Indigenous Activist Murdered in Honduras," Cultural Survival, July 6, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/another-indigenous-activist-murdered-honduras" Violence against Indigenous rights defenders continues in Honduras as yet another activist was murdered on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. A woman identified as Lesbia Yaneth Urquia was found dead near a garbage facility in Marcala with several head wounds. Her death is the latest in a series of murders of human rights activists in Honduras, including her colleagues Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia.
Mother and local merchant, Urquia was described as an outspoken community leader in Marcala who became well known for her activism after the 2009 Honduran coup. Her activism was associated with the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), though she was not a member. In a press release, the organization stated that "death of Lesbia Yaneth is a political femicide, and an attempt to silence the voice of those brave women who are courageously defending their rights and opposing the patriarchal, racist and capitalist system of of their society."
Cáceres, an environmental activist, Lenca rights advocate, and mother of four, was assassinated in March. She worked as the coordinator of the Commission of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) and was heavily involved in leading a campaign against the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam in the Gualcarque River, a sacred site for the Lenca people. It was a result of her work that the largest contractor of this dam at the international level, Sinohydro, pulled out of the process. She and her community won the Goldman Environmental Prize for this achievement.
After receiving multiple death threats for her work, Cáceres was granted precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), meaning that the government of Honduras was obligated to provide police protection. However, there was no police detail protecting her on the night of her death.
Just 12 days later on March 15th, Nelson Garcia, another outspoken member of COPINH, was gunned down in the Rio Chiquito community. Garcia had been involved in a land dispute to reclaim Indigenous lands in Rio Chiquito along with 150 families who were members of COPINH. Though it is not clear who was behind the killing, Garcia was killed on his way home after Honduran soldiers were sent to evacuate the community. He was the father of five and the leader in the community of Rio Chiquito.
Four months later, the vicious and systematic murders of Indigenous human rights defenders in Honduras continue. Urquia is believed to have been killed, like Cáceres, for protesting the Agua Zarca dam. Her death is the most recent example of political violence that has plagued the country since the 2009 US-backed coup that forced the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, out of office. Crime and homicide have risen sharply—especially against women, Indigenous Peoples, and human rights defenders. At least 116 environmental and human rights defenders were killed in 2014, according to Global Witness, but many suspect that number to be much higher. Cáceres was active in leading protests against the coup.
Four men suspected in Cáceres’ murder were arrested in May. One of the suspects is a member of Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. de C.V. (DESA), the Honduran company responsible for the construction of Agua Zarca. Two of the other suspects are both active and retired members of the Honduran military. Given security footage of these men entering Cáceres’ home on the night of her murder, a judge decided that the men will be tried for her assassination and held in prison until the trial.
COPINH and Caceres’ family do not see this as justice being served, however. They demand that authorities find those who orchestrated the crime, not just try those who carried out the murder. Her family is demanding the creation of an independent group of international investigators led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in order to conduct an objective investigation. The Honduran government has not responded to this demand. UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, expressed her own concern about the situation: "You cannot delink the fight of Indigenous people for their lands, territories and resources from the violence that’s committed against Indigenous women (and men), especially if this is a violence that is perpetrated by state authorities or by corporate security."
Cultural Survival condemns the continued systematic persecution of and violence against Indigenous activists and demands that the Honduran government and IACHR fulfill justice for the leaders who lost their lives in their struggle for human rights."

        Jonathan González Quiel, " Barro Blanco Displaces Three Ngäbe Bugle Communities in Panama," Cultural Survival, October 19, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/barro-blanco-displaces-three-ngabe-bugle-communities-panama, reported, "The Ngäbe Bugle people reside in western Panama. Together they are two of the seven original peoples that survived the Spanish conquest and subsequent colonization of Panama.
At the close of the 20 th century the Ngäbe Bugle achieved a designation protecting their lands as an autonomous territory. Law 10, signed in 1997, created the region known as the Comarca Ngäbe Bugle and protected approximately seven thousand square kilometers of their ancestral land. Since then, these two communities have been fighting to defend the integrity of this land.
During the 1980’s, many years before the creation of this autonomous region, the Panamanian Government began mineral exploration in Cerro Pelado and the western regions of Panama, and also began conducting assessments for the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Tabasará River, which is considered one of central rivers for the Ngäbe people. In 1999 the Movimiento 10 de Abril was founded, made up by the Ngäbe and fellow campesinos with the single goal of halting the hydroelectric and mining development that the government planned to construct within the region.
The mobilizations and actions of resistance taken by the Ngäbe Bugle people during this time solidified and strengthened the communities’ rights to their lands, keeping their resources out of the hands of foreign investors. But the government never removed this territory from the list of areas they had slated for the construction of ‘development projects’.
In 2007, the Martin Torrijos administration approved a water concession for the company Generadora del Istmo S. A. (GENISA) for the construction of the Tabasará hydroelectric project on the Tabasará River. This project was anticipated to generate 19 mega volts, located in an area adjacent to the autonomous region. GENISA is Honduran company, financed by three international banks; two of which are involved in the case of Berta Cáceres Flores. The operations are run by the Kafie family, a member of which is presently in prison under corruption charges in Honduras.
For the past two decades, the Indigenous communities of the Tabasará have successfully stopped projects in their territory. Now, with the approval for exploration on this new project, the Ngäbe are again on alert. In 2010 the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, approved an addendum for the hydroelectric dam on Tabasará . This addendum changed the name of the project to Barro Blanco, and allowed it to be much larger, covering 258 hectares of water and generating 28.56 megavolts. This expansion will directly impact three Indigenous communities from Bagamä, located in the Ngäbe Bugle comarca.
The affected communities were not consulted prior to the approval of the environmental impact study and the finalization of the concession contract, generating strong conflict: many living within the affected villages would lose their lands, along with ceremonial archeological sites of vital importance to the Ngäbe Bugle people.
In 2012 the government tried to modify regulations on mining, which sparked the Ngäbe Bugle and campesino movement to organize blockades on different points along the Pan-American Highway. Excessive force from the military response left two dead and ten wounded. After the violent confrontations, a roundtable was established that concluded with an agreement to sign a law that would ban mining and hydroelectric projects within the territory of Ngäbe Bugle.
This law was signed after one month of dialogue, but despite the agreed terms the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project on the Tabasará River continued. The government and the National Ngäbe Bugle and Campesino Coordinator maintained a roundtable, mediated by the United Nations, with the objective of managing the conflict surrounding the Barro Blanco project. Both parties decided to conduct a new impact assessment, but meanwhile, the company continued with the construction of the hydroelectric project.
In 2014 the government ordered the forced evacuation for the property of Mr. Manolo Miranda, a resident of Kiad, a small town in Bagamä, but it was provisionally suspended by the Supreme Court. During the same year, the Supreme Court gave a definitive answer to a legal action brought by the Ngäbe in 2010. This legal action was based on the violation of the Ngäbe right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent during the initial phase of the project, which is guaranteed under international standards in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well under Panamanian law. But, the court ruled in favor of GENISA.
Despite the disappointing ruling, the Ngäbe did not give up. They assembled a camp just outside the construction zone and waited for the machinery which was clearing the zone for the dam. This camp was stationed for four months at various locations around the project site, resulting in a series of confrontations during which more than nine people suffered injuries.
In July of 2014, Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez was elected president under the campaign platform to cancel the project as soon as he assumed the presidency. In August, the Minister of Government Milton Henríquez visited the communities and pledged to establish a dialogue to put an end to the conflict, inviting the participation of affected peoples, the traditional authorities, and elected officials.
The roundtable was established in 2015, after the government accepted the Ngäbe’s condition to temporarily suspend the project. This dialogue was facilitated by the United Nations and lasted only 4 months, when it was dissolved by the affected communities after finding too many points of contention and a lack of will by the government to cancel the project altogether.
During various sessions, experts from the communities demonstrated that the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project had violated Panamanian laws given that the impact assessments had been deficient or incomplete.
At the close of the discussions, the government lifted GENISA’s temporary suspension, allowing the company to finish construction of the dam which was very close to completion, and instead issued the company a fine of a mere 700,000 USD for irregularities in the environmental impact mitigation plan.
In disagreement with the demands of the affected communities at the roundtable, in August 2015 the government decided to start new negotiations, this time hand selecting new participants in representation of the communities, excluding affected communities themselves.
On May 22, 2016 the Public Services Authority of Panama circulated a press release announcing that on May 23 a test phase would begin, during which they would fill the reservoir 103 meters above sea level to test the functionality of the dam, indicating that the communities located within the project zone would be evicted. This first day more than 15 Ngäbe people from who were camped within close proximity to the dam were arrested.
In this instance, the Panamanian government once again violated human rights by failing to evacuate the affected persons in accordance with national and international laws. They also failed to enact the order of the Supreme Court regarding the temporary suspension of the evacuation of Mr. Manolo Miranda in Kiad.
While the reservoir tests took place , the Ngäbe mobilized across the country blockading highways. As tension grew, more attention was brought to their concerns. Meanwhile, the government continued to showcase dialogue with Ngäbe leaders who supported the dam while seeking financial reparations.
In August the government announced that they had signed an agreement with the leaders of comarca, Members of the communities affected by the dams denounced these agreements as illegitimate, as they had not been consulted or included in the drafting. On August 22, 2016, the President along with members of his cabinet signed the agreement while onlooking community members threw rocks at them.
After considering what had taken place the government announced that the Ngäbe Bugle Congress is the only authority that can ratify the signed agreement, and on September 18, 2016 the congress voted against its ratification, as well as for the removal of the Ngäbe authority Cacique General Silvia Carrera, who had signed the agreement with the government on August 22 on behalf of the community.
To this date the conflict persists and there is great uncertainty at the national level and discussions at all levels of power, because despite their communities being under water, the people continue to mobilize and maintain camps in different vigils throughout Panama.
A popular phrase describing the community rings true: 'the Ngäbe Bugle people will never stop fighting.'"

        "Charges Dropped Againdt Santa Cruz 13," Cultural Survival, Jun 29, 2016, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/charges-against-santa-cruz-13-dropped, reported, "On June 27th, 2016, the director of Public Prosecutions of Belize dropped the criminal charges against the Santa Cruz 13, allowing those who had unfairly been held prisoner to go free. The director stated that he had 'no intention to lay charges against the accused in the future.' This is a victory for Indigenous people in Belize, since the government has acknowledged the innocence of the Santa Cruz 13 and the violations of due process and rule of law, as well as racial discrimination, that have plagued the trial. The decision to drop charges also reaffirms the Caribbean Court of Justice decision that ruled in favor of the Maya and their right