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Trump Oklahoma Environment Order Redrawn by EPA After Tribes Input | U.S. News

Trump Oklahoma Environment Order Redrawn by EPA After Tribes Input | U.S. News

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would withdraw and reconsider a Trump administration grant of Oklahoma authority over environmental issues related to tribal land. It did so after consulting with 38 tribal nations.

The agency would reverse a decision made October 2020 by Andrew Wheeler (then-EPA Administrator), who granted a request from Republican Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt for the state to regulate environmental issues on historic tribal reservation land.

Stitt’s had asked for this authority in July 2020 following the landmark McGirt case against Oklahoma. In that case, 5-4 Supreme Court judges ruled that large swathes of eastern Oklahoma would be considered Muscogee (Creek) Nation reserve land. The McGirt case v. Oklahoma was about criminal jurisdiction.

Assistant Administrator for International Affairs Jane Nishida said that concerns remain with our sovereign Tribal partners about EPAs previous decision as well as the consultation process used in reaching it. Today’s action reflects our careful consideration of their concerns, and our commitment to ensure robust consultation on all policy discussions affecting Tribal nations.”

In April, the Biden administration began informal discussions with Oklahoma tribes to determine if they should have more control over environmental regulations in the oil-rich eastern half of the state. It began formal government-to-government tribal consultations in June.

Tribes complained that their concerns were not being addressed before the Trump administration made its decision.

Sources from the Oklahoma Republican government told Reuters that they were concerned about Oklahoma losing control over a large tax base and about regulation for natural resource extraction and industry if it remains under the jurisdiction of tribes.

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Oklahoma’s oil-and-gas production is concentrated in the western half of the state. However, some fields can be found in the eastern half of the state.

The EPA will accept comments on its withdrawal proposal up to Jan. 31, 2022.

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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