Representation of the Native American Heritage Commission
On January 8, 2015, the Attorney General, on behalf of the Native American Heritage Commission, filed an action to force the County of Inyo to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as it applies to Native American archeological and cultural resources. The petition alleges that the County approved a construction project for a small-scale solar energy facility in the Owens Valley without first completing testing that would have determined whether archeological sites within the project area contain sensitive Native American historical and cultural resources requiring a more thorough review and analysis. The petition further alleges that the mitigation measures that were adopted by the County were not adequate to address the harm the project could cause to these resources.
The Attorney General, on behalf of the Native American Heritage Commission, filed a legal action in June 2010, seeking to prevent a water district from constructing a pump station, a 2.5-million gallon reservoir, and flow control facility on a Native American sanctified cemetery and ceremonial site in San Diego County. Under a July 12, 2012 settlement agreement, the Water District agreed not to build the project, and transferred the land to a Native American tribal entity.
On March 23, 2006, the Attorney General, on behalf of the Native American Heritage Commission, filed suit seeking to enjoin construction of a toll road in Orange and San Diego counties through the indigenous Village of Panhé, a major village of the Juaneño/Acjachemen people, that is still used for reburials and other ceremonial activities. Because an adverse Coastal Commission decision prevented the project from going forward, the case was dismissed without prejudice, but was reinstated in 2013 when the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency and its Board of Directors approved the initial 5.5-mile portion of the road, purportedly as a separate project. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board then denied a necessary permit. On appeal from that decision, the State Water Resources Control Board remanded the matter back to the regional board with directions to provide the factual and legal basis for its decision. The Regional Board again denied the permit and the Transportation Corridor Agency again sought review by the State Board. That petition for review was deemed dismissed by operation of law without review on July 14, 2015. Pursuant to an agreement with the Regional Board, the Transportation Corridor Agency has until February 15, 2016, to file suit challenging that dismissal. Our lawsuit has been stayed indefinitely pending the resolution of the water permit issues.