Indians File Appeal Over Water Quality Regulation

Members of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indian tribes continue their legal battle against Maine regulation of water quality of rivers that run through tribal lands.

The two tribes have been fighting the state for years over who should regulate water quality of the Penobscot and St. Croix rivers, waterways central to the Indian cultures.

The tribes maintain that the state Department of Environmental Protection cannot be trusted to consider the interests of fish, wildlife and native people as it grants and enforces National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits. These documents that essentially give communities and companies the right to pollute at low levels while still complying with the federal Clean Water Act.

"The state needs to wake up and realize who we are," Penobscot Gov. Barry Dana said. "We will not give in to their authority on our body of water."

Last October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a compromise. Under the compromise, the federal government would retain jurisdiction for Penobscot and Passamaquoddy reservations' water treatment plants, but the state would gain control of everything else.

The state, arguing that it ought to manage the entire NPDES program, filed an appeal in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals last Thursday.

The tribes filed their appeal Friday, asking the federal government to retain jurisdiction over the entire Penobscot and St. Croix river systems.

Associated Press

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