In a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed today, the State of Wyoming, through the Attorney General, says the EPA used incomplete facts and faulty legal conclusions when making its decision to change existing law and alter the boundary of the State and the Wind River Reservation (WRR). The State's petition asks the agency to reconsider and also stay any implementation of its December decision revising the WRR boundary.
"I understand that the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes have a different opinion about the Wind River Reservation Boundary. 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 Matt Mead said. "I want to thank the Attorney General and his staff for acting with urgency and preparing a thorough review of the historical record. This analysis shows how flawed the EPA was in its legal justification for its decision. The federal government clearly had a predetermined outcome it sought to uphold."
The Attorney General's petition shows that, in conjunction with the Tribes, Congress diminished the Wind River Reservation in 1905. Given the fundamentally flawed process and decision and the likelihood of irreparable harm, the EPA should put a hold on its decision and reopen its process to incorporate all of the available evidence, give interested parties an opportunity to respond to the facts and arguments and complete its review in a transparent manner.
The State has also asked the EPA to stay its decision until a final judicial decision has been issued.
"It is crucial that the EPA stay its decision. We need certainty while this is reviewed by the EPA and while Wyoming continues to prepare a legal challenge to this decision as well. This is too important and too flawed a decision not to pursue every avenue possible," Governor Mead said.
The State of Wyoming has submitted over 22,000 pages of exhibits and affidavits in support of its petition. The State's petition for reconsideration, motion for stay and the supporting documents are available online on the Attorney General's website at: http://attorneygeneral.state.wy.us/.