Indian Nations

Overview | Attorneys &

Godfrey & Kahn's deep environmental experience and long history of involvement in legal initiatives to protect the environment make us a natural ally for tribes seeking to protect water and air resources for future generations. The firm's recent Indian country experience includes:

  • Assisting tribes in the preparation of water permitting codes, including one case regarding codes intended to strengthen the tribe's ability to regulate off-reservation activities impacting reservation water quality
  • Assisting the Council of Great Lakes Governors in formulating a policy for consulting with U.S. tribes and Canadian First Nations on issues relating to the Great Lakes compact
  • Assisting tribes in obtaining Class I status for their reservations under the Clean Air Act, including the first tribal Class I air quality redesignation by EPA since 1992. This authority assures the highest level of protection from ambient concentrations of conventional pollutants (e.g., sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide) on the reservation available under the Clean Air Act. Class I designation enables tribes to influence off-reservation development that could adversely affect reservation air quality. Designations also preserve the pristine nature of large tracts of lands located outside the reservations that could otherwise be contaminated by pollutants under the Class II standards covering the rest of the state
  • Assisting tribes seeking to prevent adverse impacts from proposed off-reservation mining activities, including a successful multiyear campaign on behalf of one client to prevent development of zinc mining in northern Wisconsin, thus protecting vital reservation water and air resources for future generations
  • Assisting a tribe seeking to assume a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license to operate a power facility downstream from the tribe's reservation in order to generate revenue and mitigate adverse impacts from a dam on the river
  • Assisting in the establishment of tribal "Little NEPA" and other environmental protection programs to protect tribal air, water and other natural resources
  • Assisting a tribal client in the preparation and successful defense of an environmental impact statement (EIS) in support of an application to take land into trust for gaming purposes
  • Assisting tribes in the development of "green" energy initiatives that reduce the environmental impacts of a tribe's own commercial and government operations

In addition, the firm offers a full range of environmental legal services including: traditional environmental practice (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc.), land use, wetlands, water rights, conservation easements, municipal environmental issues, criminal and civil environmental litigation, regulatory compliance, risk transfer and environmental, Brownfields, landfills, air permitting and compliance and political law.