The EPA ruled Dec. 19, 2013, that Wyoming towns of Riverton, Kinnear and Pavillion are now within the boundaries of the Wind River Reservation. The EPA also approved a tribal application for "State Status" for the reservation, which includes the towns.
In addition to the EPA, officials of the Department of the Interior and the Justice Department were involved in the rulings. The decision was based on an analysis made back in 2011, according to Newsmax.
At this time the Bureau of Indian Affairs has not yet taken over Riverton, the larger of the three towns.
According to an EMS Division Supervisor/ Fire Officer #1 contact who has worked in Riverton, WY, for 12 years, "the ruling is not being recognized by the state of Wyoming currently; Governor Matt Meade has it under appeal."
Riverton lies within the Wind River Reservation, but was annexed in 1905. The contact feels that most of the people in the area are waiting to see what will happen and how the courts will rule. Quite a few "feel it is not right for the Federal Government to get involved with something already settled over 100 years ago." Even more are beginning to wonder what the true motives are behind the rulings.
Clean Air Act
What is behind the rulings is the EPA's Clean Air Act (CAA). When the December 6, 2013, approval was given to the reservation's application to be treated as a state, it became effective under the CAA --- immediately.
According to the EPA, all EPA-admnistered regulatory programs are being affected by the boundary determination, as "all Wyoming-issued environmental permits in the new boundary were not validly issued." Now that the Wind River has become a state, all environmental permits have to be re-permitted on an EPA level.
1905 Act of Congress rejected by EPA
The EPA has determined that all land ceded by the tribes to Wyoming in the 1905 Act of Congress has left over million acres and the town of Riverton to "Indian Country," with the EPA as the permitting agency.
As an EPA permitting agency, compared to a state permitting agency, the new boundaries and expanded Indian area will be subject to EPA air permitting and enforcement authority.
*** There will be higher fines for violations.
*** There will be automatic stays of permits during protests.
*** There will be longer permitting -completion times.
The Daily Caller quotes Governor Meade as vigorously disputing the EPA's ruling,
“My deep concern is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state’s boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law. This should be a concern to all citizens because, if the EPA can unilaterally take land away from a state, where will it stop?”
Governor Meade is directing all Wyoming agencies to maintain a status quo, which consists of the "law enforcement, regulatory agencies, government services, property ownership, and water rights," according to Holland and Hart News Update.
Wind River on the Wind River Reservation in NE Wyoming.
Governor Meade, Fremont County, and Wyoming legislatures filed complaints against the tribal application, stated County10.
Governor Meade stated, "The tribe's application, if granted, has Actimplications for criminal law, civil law, water law, and taxation. It also takes away the voices of citizens in Kinnear, Riverton, and Pavillion." What he did not say was that the move shifted jurisdication for policing, taxing, and other services to the two reservation tribes -- the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone.
Tribes demand EPA reject Wyoming's appeal
Fearful of a lengthy court battle, The Republic reports that the Northern Arapaho are demanding that the EPA reject Wyoming's request to halt the proceedings.
At a press meeting with the Wyoming Press Association in Cheyenne, Governor Mead said that Wyoming and the tribes have fought over the land's legal status for a long time. He also recognized the tribe's desire to become more involved in environmental regulation. What he disagreed about was the long and over-reaching arm of the EPA, like many of the Wyoming citizens.
The tribes sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and EPA Regional Administrator Shawn McGrath in Denver, CCO, regarding the state appeal, according to The Republic,
The tribe's lawyers told the federal officials that the state's petition is full of errors of fact and law. They maintain that it shows the state fundamentally misunderstands the difference between land ownership versus the sovereign authority over the territory.
"Worse yet, the letter manufactures mythical consequences for local communities that appear to be designed to inflame racial division and conflict," the tribe's lawyers told the EPA.