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As California and Tribes Argue, Casinos Keep Going Up

30 October 2000

SACRAMENTO, California—Oct. 30, 2000 –As reported by the Copley News Service: "Sprawling Indian casinos are going up all over California even though the state and tribes are at loggerheads over critical environmental standards.

"…Public documents show at least three tribes are pushing ahead with construction despite serious environmental questions raised by the state attorney general.

"Two of those projects are in San Diego County: a temporary facility at the San Pasqual reservation and a major overhaul of a former gambling hall on the Rincon reservation. The third is being built by a Me-Wuk band in Tuolumne County.

"In all three cases, the attorney general notified the tribes they had failed to comply with basic guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act, a comprehensive statute considered one of the nation's toughest environmental laws.

"…But tribal representatives say they are in compliance with a compact that left a lot of room for interpretation.

"…Looming effects of the Indian gambling boom figure to hit hardest in San Diego County, where as many as nine casinos may be built.

"…The compact's environmental language is just the latest piece of the hastily drafted document that appears headed for arbitration or court.

"Gov. Gray Davis and the tribes stitched the deal together in just 16 days last fall. Former Gov. Pete Wilson took 17 months to negotiate an earlier compact, which was rejected by most tribes. .

"…Tribal attorneys say the compact does not require tribes to adhere to CEQA or its federal counterpart, the National Environmental Policy Act…"

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