Sunday, February 23, 2014
Honey, The EPA Just Shrunk Wyoming
Just when you thought the imperial presidency of Barack Obama couldn't get any worse, consider the citizens of Riverton, Wyo. They woke up one morning to be told by the Environmental Protection Agency they no longer lived in the sovereign state of Wyoming, but in the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The EPA's redrawing of the state's boundaries came at year's end in response to a request from the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes for "state status" under the Clean Air Act to get more grant money and sovereignty in monitoring air quality.
Instead of giving the tribes the authority to conduct air quality monitoring, the EPA, which continues to act as an unelected fourth branch of government, unilaterally and unconstitutionally voided a 1905 agreement between Congress and Wyoming revising the reservation's boundaries. This, in effect, transferred 1 million acres of Wyoming to the tribes, including Riverton.
The EPA, an agency charged with protecting the environment, decided, as President Obama has, it could rewrite the law. The EPA ruled that a 1905 federal law opening part of the Wind River reservation to settlement by non-Indians didn't end the land's reservation status.
In 1905, Congress acted to reduce the size of Wind River by opening it up to homesteading by non-Indians, a decision affirmed in subsequent court rulings. It was determined that towns settled by homesteaders such as Riverton were not part of the reservation. To the EPA, both history and law are irrelevant.