By SEAN MURPHY, Associate Press Editor
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it plans to withdraw and reconsider a decision made under the Trump administration that allowed the state, not tribal nations, to regulate environmental issues in Indian country.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, sought leave last year, shortly after the United States Supreme Court ruled in a landmark ruling known as the McGirt ruling that much of eastern Oklahoma remains a Muscogee (Creek) nation Indian reservation. Since then, the tribal reservations of five other Native American tribes spanning virtually the entire eastern half of the state have been determined by the courts to remain intact.
The EPA said in a press release that its decision was made after extensive consultation with the 38 federally recognized tribal nations of Oklahoma and the concerns many of them had with the previous decision of the ‘agency.
“Today’s action reflects a careful consideration of their concerns and our commitment to ensure solid consultation on all political deliberations affecting tribal nations,” said Jane Nishida, EPA deputy administrator for international affairs. and tribal.
The agency said it would seek public comment on the proposed withdrawal and review until January 31. While the process is ongoing, the agency said state authority will remain in place.
Neither the governor’s office nor Attorney General John O’Connor’s office immediately responded to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Stitt, himself a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, had strained relations with many tribal nations in Oklahoma which began with his attempt to seek a larger share of the revenue from tribal casinos.
Cherokee Nation Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Wednesday applauded the EPA’s decision.
“All Oklahoma residents benefit when we can work together in a spirit of mutual respect,” Hoskin said in a statement. The people of Oklahoma, whether native or not, play an important role in protecting our environment. “
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