From left Legislators Cale Case, David Miller, Lloyd Larsen and Gerald Geis met with the Fremont County Commission. Joshua Scheer photo.
(Lander, Wyo.) – While the Environmental Protection Agency ruling that came to light earlier today states the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes have a say in air quality matters within a 50-mile radius of the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation, it doesn’t change much else, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, said.
“It only affects air quality,” Case said during a round-table discussion with the Fremont County Commission and other local legislators on Tuesday afternoon.
Rumors that the ruling automatically changes taxation rules and law enforcement jurisdiction are unfounded, he said.
“There has been no legal change of status regarding criminal law or civil law in Riverton,” a statement from Riverton said earlier in the day. “Tax rates and collection methods remain the same, court jurisdictions remain the same, and police authority remains the same throughout Riverton. Future changes in legal status will only be recognized when issued by a legal authority with the proper jurisdiction to rule on such matters.”
Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness was present Tuesday afternoon for the discussion, though he didn’t speak.
Commissioner Keja Whiteman said she was particularly concerned about some of the misinformation being spread, along with anti-Native American comments or comments that make it seem like the reservation is trying to take over Riverton.
The reservation was granted state status for the purpose of monitoring air quality, which includes giving the tribes jurisdiction in air quality within a 50-mile radius.
However, in granting the status, the EPA also said that Riverton, Pavillion and Kinnear were inside the boundaries of the reservation. The larger implications of the ruling are yet to be seen, and Gov. Matt Mead has said he plans on filing an appeal.
In his letter last August opposing the application, Mead wrote: “”The tribes’ application, if granted, has implications for criminal law, civil law, water law and taxation. It also takes away the voices of citizens in Kinnear, Riverton and Pavillion.
Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said he thinks the local governments have the full support of Mead and the Attorney General’s Office.
“What authority does EPA have over judicial decisions?” asked Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander. The boundaries of the reservation have been held outside of Riverton by court decisions.
“It’s of great concern to us,” Commission Chairman Doug Thompson.
Miller, Case, Larsen and Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland (who also represents part of Fremont County), all expressed concern with the EPA’s ruling.
(Read more about the ruling here.)