A federal judge will allow the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency officials to make “substantive changes” to water quality standards for Maine rivers where members of the Penobscot Nation and Houlton Bands of Maliseets have sustenance fishing rights.
The move allows the Trump administration to rework water quality standards the Obama administration set in 2014 in an effort to reduce pollutants, including mercury and dioxins, that make higher-than-average fish consumption unhealthy. The Obama-era standards for the rivers where tribal members have sustenance fishing rights are stricter than those for other water bodies in the state.
The move by U.S. District Judge Jon Levy on Monday is the latest development in a 4-year-old lawsuit between Maine and the federal government. The state sued the EPA in 2014 over what were then proposed water quality standards. The state alleged that, once enacted, the rules would create a double standard for water quality