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Oklahoma sues federal agency over coal mining oversight

July 19, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt says the state is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior over the federal agency's plan to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate coal mining on tribal reservations. Stitt announced the lawsuit on Monday, July 19 against the federal agency and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this May 17, 2021, file photo, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt says the state is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior over the federal agency's plan to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate coal mining on tribal reservations. Stitt announced the lawsuit on Monday, July 19 against the federal agency and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior over the federal agency’s plan to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate coal mining on tribal reservations, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday.

The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Oklahoma City, names as defendants U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and that agency’s acting director, Glenda Owens.

The U.S. Department of the Interior notified the state earlier this year it planned to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate surface coal mining within the Muscogee Nation reservation following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which determined the tribe’s reservation in eastern Oklahoma was never disestablished by Congress.

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“The Department of the Interior and other defendants in this case are dead wrong about their decision,” Stitt said in a statement. “They are attempting to unlawfully federalize mines that have been regulated by Oklahoma for almost 40 years by ignoring the clear limitations in the McGirt decision.”

Stitt claims that the decision applies only to criminal jurisdiction.

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.