The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is coming out against SB 1050, a bill that limits the role of tribes in setting certain state environmental policies.
The bill removes the word "tribal" from state laws that otherwise take tribes into account. A Cherokee Nation attorney said the measure would harm tribal-state relations.
“By passing this law, Oklahoma risks damaging the cooperative relationship it has built with the tribes – a relationship that has produced a significant economic benefit for the state,” Sara Hill, the tribe's senior assistant attorney general, told The Cherokee Phoenix.
Sen. Greg Treat (R), the sponsor of the bill, says tribes can still offer their views on state matters. But tribal laws won't carry any weight if the measure passes.
Treat also said the Environmental Protection Agency has a “liberal agenda,” and is using the tribes “as a vehicle” to expand its power.
“My message to tribal members and all Oklahomans is that his bill is about common sense and stopping the overreach and burden of the federal government,” Treat said. “I believe any form of government – whether it be tribal, local, state or federal – has a tendency to want to increase its power and control over citizens.”
Under a rider that was tucked into a federal transportation bill, Oklahoma tribes are barred from obtaining treatment as state status from the Environmental Protection Agency unless they reach a "cooperative agreement" with the state. No other tribes are subject to such prohibitions.