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Native American tribes in the Northwest once centered entire societies around the Columbia River, living on its shores and fishing salmon from its waters. Beginning in the 1930s, however, the United States built a series of hydroelectric dams on the river, flooding tribal villages and destroying traditional tribal access to the river for fishing. Despite promises, these tribes were never compensated properly for their losses.
In People v. Rinehart, the California Supreme Court unanimously upheld a gold miner’s criminal conviction for using a suction dredge to mine the riverbed of a waterway on federal land in violation of a state moratorium on that mining method. The court reversed the California Court of Appeal’s holding that the federal Mining Act of 1872 (Mining Act) preempts state regulations that render mining on federal land “commercially impracticable.”
In AquAlliance v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (Bureau) decision to withhold information about the construction and location of water wells from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. However, the court did not overturn the District Court’s ruling required the agency to disclose the names and addresses of various water transfer program participants.