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City signs on in support of state's EPA challenge

Mar 13, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The City of Riverton is joining Fremont County and other entities in filing to intervene with the State of Wyoming on legal action challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's opinion that Riverton is part of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

City council members and mayor Ron Warpness voted in favor of the motion. Councilman Jonathan Faubion was absent.

City administrator Steven Weaver said the city could now have a "seat at the table" as the legal challenge moves forward. It could take as long as two years.

"(This can) recognize that the city of Riverton's concerns are being addressed as they go through this process," Weaver said.

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes received approval in December from the EPA for treatment as state in order to monitor air quality on the reservation. Part of that declared that Riverton was still within the exterior boundaries of the reservation despite a congressional act more than a century ago that removed the townsite from the reservation.

The state filed a petition in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in February requesting a review of the decision. Fremont County commissioners voted last week to intervene in support of the state. The decision has been put on hold while the legal process plays out.

Weaver said the city considered teaming up with the county to hire an attorney and split the costs, but that idea was ruled out by county officials for now.

"(The) county didn't have an issue with each organization helping each other and consulting in the future," Weaver said, adding that also is inquiring about financial support for the city or county through Senate File 75 recently approved by the Wyoming Legislation.

The bill is meant to help limit the rule-making authority in Wyoming of the EPA and other federal agencies.

Council member Richard Gard made the motion to intervene in support of the state. Along with Fremont County, other supporting intervening entities are Devon Energy Production Co. and the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. The city will use the city attorney to file the appropriate paperwork with the state.

"The State of Wyoming will be doing the heavy lifting," Weaver said. "And it will be the local government to provide supporting documentation."