Wisconsin: A federal appeals court
has ruled in favor of a
Wisconsin-based Indian tribe in a
16-year dispute with Michigan over air quality standards.
The EPA [U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency] had granted the Forest
County Potawatomi reservation the
highest level of protection allowed
under the federal Clean Air Act.
Michigan challenged the ruling. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals dismissed the case, saying the state lacked
standing to contest the federal
"This is a great victory," said
Philip Shopodock, chairman of the
Potawatomi tribe. "Pure air and pure
water are essential to our culture
and our beliefs. We must protect our
home for future generations."
The Forest County Potawatomi
are located in northeast Wisconsin
on the Michigan state line. They are
among five tribes that
have received Class I air quality
status from EPA. They filed for the
Class 1 status in 1993.
and Wisconsin objected and requested mediation.
They feared the designation would
hurt the area's economic
the tribe later settled with
Wisconsin, talks with Michigan
broke down. The EPA was then asked to
impose a decision. But Michigan said
the EPA's procedures were flawed and
asked the appeals court to
intervene. They also complained that
EPA standards for Michigan's
polluters are tougher than Wisconsin's. True, the
court said, but that's because
Wisconsin and the Potawatomi had
already settled their dispute..
"Michigan had access to the very
same dispute resolution opportunity,
but it failed to come to an
agreement" with the tribe, the court
said. The standards EPA imposed are
typical in areas with the top-level
air quality status, it said.
Volume 4 October 2009
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