California | Opinion
Opinion: Patchak decision affects Twentynine Palms Band casino

"While all eyes were on the U.S. Supreme Court as it deliberated over the Affordable Care Act, the nation's highest court handed down an unrelated decision that may well have significant impact on one of the California Desert's most popular spots. At issue in the wake of the court's decision: a proposal by the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians to build a casino in the unincorporated San Bernardino County hamlet of Joshua Tree.

The Patchak decision is almost certainly going to affect the Joshua Tree casino proposal. The casino is proposed for land east of the town's central core which, similarly to the Potawatomi land in Michigan, was bought by the tribe in the hope that the Interior Department would grant the land fee-to-trust status. There is strong local opposition to the casino, and a suit similar to Patchak's is a strong possibility. Much of the opposition to the Joshua Tree casino centers around the lack of opportunity for local environmental assessment, and an opportunity to compel the tribal developers to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), among other local environmental laws, will likely prove enticing."

Get the Story:
Chris Clarke: Michigan Case May Pose Obstacle to New Desert Casino (KCET 7/4)

Supreme Court Decision:
Salazar v. Patchak (June 18, 2012)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Off-reservation casino needs community support (12/15)