Sunday, September 25, 2022

EPA plans to reconsider state request for tribal land inspection. AP News

Oklahoma City ( Associated Press) — The US Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it plans to withdraw and reconsider a decision made under the Trump administration. Which allowed the state, not the tribal nations, to regulate environmental issues in the Indian country.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, requested authorization shortly after the US Supreme Court determined in a landmark decision last year. Known as McGurt’s decision, a large part of eastern Oklahoma remains the Muskogee (Creek) Nation Indian Reservation. Since then, the tribal reservations of five other Native American tribes spread across nearly the entire eastern part of the state have been determined by the courts to uphold.

The EPA said in a press release that its decision was made after extensive consultation with Oklahoma’s 38 federally recognized tribal nations and that many of them were concerned with the agency’s previous decision.

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“Today’s action reflects our commitment to carefully consider their concerns and ensure strong consultations on all policy discussions affecting tribal nations,” said Jane Nishida, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs.

The agency said it would seek public comment on the proposed withdrawal and reconsideration by January 31. While the process is on, the agency said the authority of the state will remain.

Neither the governor’s office nor the office of Attorney General John O’Connor immediately responded Wednesday to requests for comment.

Stitt, himself a Cherokee Nation citizen, having a strained relationship As with several tribal nations in Oklahoma, that began with their attempt to take as much of the tribal casino revenue as possible.

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Cherokee Nation’s head of state, Chuck Hoskin Jr., praised the EPA’s decision on Wednesday.

“All Oklahomen benefit when we can work together in a spirit of mutual respect,” Hoskin said in a statement. “Tribal nations such as the Cherokee nations have been good stewards of our land, water, and other natural resources since time immemorial, but all Oklahomaans, Native or otherwise, play a vital role in protecting our environment.”

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