The Star-Herald

Trump’s EPA wants to rewrite standards for tribal waters in Maine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to rewrite its own water quality standards for the Maine rivers where members of the Penobscot Nation and Houlton Bands of Maliseets have sustenance fishing rights.

After unsuccessfully negotiating with Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, the federal agency in December 2016 imposed stricter criteria for the Penobscot and the Meduxnekeag rivers.

The Trump administration wants to revisit the stricter standards promulgated by Obama-era officials for the rivers that flow through or around tribal lands in Penobscot and Aroostook counties, according to documents filed in federal court in Maine.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Edward T. Gignoux U.S. Courthouse in Portland on the EPA’s motion to stay a pending lawsuit over the standards so Trump appointees can, tribal members fear, rewrite them. Maine sued the EPA in 2014 over what were then proposed standards alleging that once enacted, the rules would create a double standard for water quality in Maine — one for tribal waters and another for the rest of the state.

Historically, Maine’s tribal members have consumed fish and other food sources from the Penobscot, Meduxnekeag and other rivers at much higher rates than the general public, according to court documents. The intent of the higher standards in tribal waters is to decrease pollutants, including mercury and dioxins, that make higher-than-average fish consumption unhealthy.

To read the rest of “Trump’s EPA wants to rewrite standards for tribal waters in Maine,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Judy Harrison, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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