On July 14, the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit argues that the EPA approved recommendations by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to lower water quality standards, after tribes in Minnesota and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe voiced against lowering the quality of water.
“It’s really powerful how the Tribes have stood together in this,” Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s Secretary and Treasure April McCormick told Native News Online. “Even during our consultation with the Minnesota Governor’s Office and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, we listed fourteen talking points and their response was that the state was moving forward.
In a joint press release by the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands, the lawsuit is considered the first by any tribe, or tribes, filed against the EPA over changes to a state’s water quality standards. “The elimination of numeric water quality standards for industrial and agricultural uses in Minnesota is likely to result in increased pollution in downstream waters that flow around and through the Bands’ reservations, and waters that are important to the Bands’ treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather throughout ceded territories,” said the Tribes in a press release.