The Penobscot Indian Nation continues its fight against a federal governmnt effort to revisit water quality standards that the Obama administration placed on waters used for tribal sustenance fishing.

A Maine tribal nation is fighting a federal judge’s move to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to rework strict water quality standards the Obama administration put in place on rivers fished by tribes.

The years-long battle over water quality started in 2014, when the Maine Department of Environmental Protection filed suit against the US Environmental Protection Agency to overturn water quality standards that were enacted and specifically required more stringent standards for tribal fishing water.

The current EPA, meanwhile, wants to make “substantive changes” to those stricter standards, leading the Penobscots to fear wholesome – and most likely, not for the better – changes will be made. US District Court Judge Jon LEvy last week gave the EPA a year to review the standards, leaving the current ones on place for that time.

According to reports the Penobscots asked the court to stay with the Obama administration rules to ensure that the waters are not polluted.

Governor-elect Janet Mills said in a statement that she will work to ensure that the state has the best water quality standards possible and that sustenance fishing is protected. Maine’s tribes slammed Mills when she was serving as attorney general for the state’s efforts to fight higher standards.

“We have a very environmentally conservative Trump administration in place that now has the opportunity to reconsider the Obama administration’s decisions protective of tribal water quality,” attorney Kaighn Smith, who represents the Penobscots, told the the Associated Press. “Maine has forever taken the position that the sustenance fishing rights of the Penobscot Nation is nothing more than an opportunity to catch whatever fish might be available, even if they’re laden with toxins. We think in this era, that’s just dead wrong.”


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