Plan faces hurdlesIf Anderson's bill passes, the plan faces a likely court battle. That's because tribes must obtain the EPA's permission to run their own environmental programs. In addition, Oklahoma tribes must receive permission from the state of Oklahoma to receive treatment-as-state status, thanks to a so-called "midnight rider” that U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe placed on a transportation funding bill in 2005. Miles Tolbert, Oklahoma's secretary of the environment, declined to comment on the Osage proposal, citing a federal lawsuit concerning the tribe's jurisdictional boundaries. That lawsuit, filed by the tribe in 2001, asserts the tribe's contention that Osage County is its reservation, and that its employees who live in Osage County are exempt from paying state income taxes.
Light pollution claimedThe first page of Anderson's 53-page bill sets out several purposes for creating the Osage National Environmental and Natural Resources Act. One is to "protect the dark nights in order to see the stars.” Surber finds that language hypocritical. After all, he claims, the tribe's own casinos cause more light pollution than any other business in Osage County. Surber owns 2,500 acres and leases about 7,000 additional acres, all in Osage County. He and other Osage County cattlemen met Tuesday night to discuss what Surber called a "defense strategy.” The tribe has scheduled three hearings on the proposal. The first, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, is for tribal members. A second will be July 14 for county landowners, and the final one will be July 26 for oil and gas operators. Each will begin at 6 p.m. at the Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center in Pawhuska. Osage County