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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2005

On Behalf of Oneida County Officials, Schumer Urges Feds to Extend Public Comment Period for the Oneida Indian Nation’s Proposed Land Acquisition

Schumer To Meet With Oneida County Officials In Washington Office Thursday Who Are Asking For More Time To Prepare Comment

Schumer: If Approved in Entirety, Land-in-Trust Acquisition Would Create Patchwork of Laws And Impose Undue Burden on Local Governments

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who will meet with Oneida County leaders late this afternoon, today urged the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to extend the public comment period for the Oneida Indian Nation’s land acquisition. Currently, the comment period is set to close on December 27th but Oneida and Madison County officials have been frustrated by a lack of clear direction and accommodation from the BIA. Schumer is aggressively lobbying the BIA to allow more time for County leaders to analyze and comment on the land-in-trust application, as they will be profoundly impacted by this proposal.

“The bottom line is, the BIA has just not been responsive enough to the people of Oneida and Madison Counties,” Schumer said. “We must make sure they understand how this application will impact the people of Madison and Oneida Counties. This is not some parcel of land in a sparsely populated area in the West. The whole idea of putting land into trust was not designed highly-developed areas like upstate New York. This is a proposal that, if approved as submitted, would create a patchwork of laws and turn into a very heavy burden for local and county governments – something that the recent Supreme Court Sherrill decision specifically derided.”

This afternoon Schumer will meet with Mike Arccri, District Attorney County of Oneida, Mike Hennessey, County Legislator, Ed Stevenson, County Legislator, Rick Vassacio, Councilman Town of Verona, Judy Bachman, CERA, and Fred Bachman, UCE this afternoon. The land in question covers over 17,000 acres scattered over Madison and Oneida Counties. On October 26, the BIA granted a two-month extension to the Counties and State of New York provide greater opportunity for all interested parties to provide comments and to conduct more complete analysis.

“Because the impacts of this decision are so profound and far reaching, it is vital that the key decision makers hear directly from those who will be most affected,” said Schumer. Local officials have expressed their frustration to me of not getting the information they need from the BIA about this process. “Meetings like this one permit all stakeholders to most effectively express their concerns, will allow the BIA to gather essential information as well as hear from local leaders about what information they need regarding this profound, but poorly understood, process,” said Schumer.

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