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Environmental brief ~ Bush signs American Indian probate reform bill, simplifies Indian land ownership

[JURIST] In Thursday's environmental law news, President Bush has signed into law the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004, faciliatating the consolidation of Indian land ownership. The bill was introduced by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and unanimously passed through both houses of Congress. The new law creates a uniform federal probate code, allows small interests in land to pass exclusively to single heirs through intestacy, and gives greater flexibility for individuals and Tribes to consolidate and acquire interests during the probate process. The DOI press release is here. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has background on Tribal land probate issues here. In other news, the EPA has fined several developers in Puerto Rico a total of $150,000, and is seeking an additional $330,000 in penalties from other developers for filling wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act[PDF]. The developers have also been ordered to create new wetlands in Puerto Rico. The EPA press release is here.... For the third time since 2003, the Carroll Independent Fuel Co. of Maryland has been fined by the EPA for failing to detect and prevent fuel leaks from underground storage tanks at its gas stations, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This time involved 8 stations and a fine of $101,894. The EPA press release is here.... The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) seeks comments on a proposed interim rule that will implement days-at-sea (DAS) fishing allocations that are capped at a vessel's annual DAS allocation for the 2001 fishing year. The caps are in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and will apply to New England multi-species fisheries. Comments can be made until November 12 here.... The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) seeks comments on a proposed rule that establishes regulations for requests the agency receives regarding changes to the restrictions on the importation of plants, plant parts, and plant products. Importation restrictions are made under the auspices of the Plant Protection Act[PDF]. Comments can be made until December 27 here.

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