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Natural Resources Law Clinic Guide: Department of the Interior

Introduction

The Department of the Interior manages the federal lands and natural resources of the United States. In addition to managing natural resources, the Department is also tasked to manage relations with American Indians and Native Alaskans, as well as with United States territories. 

In all, the Department oversees nine separate bureaus: the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.  In addition to these agencies, there are also a number of separate offices in the Department of the Interior, such as the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

For more on the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, visit their respective pages in this guide.

Resources

Agency Website

The Department of the Interior website provides links to all sorts of useful information, including their laws and regulations. When researching an agency that is responsible for enforcing lots of different laws and regulations, an agency website is a great place to start. 

Laws and Regulations

Most of the Department of the Interior Statutes are in Title 43 of the United States Code. The regulations are scattered throughout the Code of Federal Regulations, with many of the codified in Title 43 of the CFR.

Department Manual

The department manual, which contains long term Department policies, mandatory procedures, descriptions of major organizational components, in addition to selected Secretary’s Orders from 1992 to the present, is also available online.

Agency Decisions

There are a number of Department of the Interior decisions and opinions which are available on the website. There are decisions of the Department of the Interior, the last of which was apparently published in 1994. The Office of Solicitor opinions and Office of Hearing and Appeals decisions are also available.

Westlaw has a Department of the Interior databases with decisions from various decisions and guidance documents.

List of DOI agencies.