SCHUMER CONTINUES PUSH TO HAVE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CAYUGA INDIAN NATION LAND INTO TRUST APPLICATION REVAMPED; DEIS OMITS CRITICAL INFORMATION
Schumer Calls On New Secretary Of Interior Salazar To Include Thorough and Balanced Assessment Of Economic Impact Of Land Into Trust, On Both Municipalities That will Lose Tax Base, and on Businesses That Will Have To Compete With Stores That Won't Charge Sales Tax
Schumer Continues Push He Started Last Month in Cayuga; Schumer Laid Out Opposition to Land-Into-Trust Application and Called for Answers from Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs -- Before Any Final Decisio
Most importantly, according to Schumer, it does not address the collateral economic or traffic consequences for local businesses that would have to compete with taxfree businesses on neighboring trust land, nor does it take into consideration the unequal playing field that can result from the fact that trust land would be exempt from most local zoning strictures. Schumer asked Salazar to have the BIA fill the gaps in the DEIS to ensure that all parties are fully knowledgeable of all the consequences of taking land into trust. Schumer expressed opposition to the land into trust application at the June 17th public hearing on the DEIS, andin a call with Assistant Secretary Larry EchoHawk. At a public meeting in Cayuga County last month he expanding his arguments and called for the BIA to fill holes in the DEIS before releasing a final Environmental Impact Statement. Schumer expanding his push today by taking his request to the highest level, the Secretary of the Interior. The BIA is part of the DOI.
"I have said before that there are some very serious concerns regarding economic impacts and uneven regulations that were glossed over and need to be fully addressed before any kind of final decision on landintotrust is made," said Senator Schumer. "Now I am taking my concerns to the highest levels of the Federal government to make sure that the concerns of communities in Cayuga and Seneca are heard."
Following a Cayuga Indian Nation request that 129 acres of land be put into a taxexempt federal trust, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that concluded there would be little or no negative impact, environmental or otherwise, from putting the land into trust. The DOI's Final Environmental Impact Study is the next step, although Schumer and many communities feel the federal agency has not done enough to address the concerns and answer the questions of residents in Cayuga and Seneca Counties. There is an especially glaring lack of clarify on the effect on local businesses, payment of taxes on nontrust land and the applicability of federal environmental and other regulatory regimes on trust land and the unequal playing fields that result from these different regimes. The final EIS will include a Record of Decision (ROD), the official action which declares the agency's determination.
Schumer noted that the DEIS also did not address how the environment, namely Cayuga Lake, will be protected in the absence of local, county, or state regulation of the lands involved, not did it take into account the pending lawsuits that are working their way through the court.
On the call, Schumer restated his preference for a negotiated settlement between the Counties and the Tribe, as opposed to a federally imposed decision. He urged the BIA to reject taking land into trust and instead to facilitate a settlement between the Tribe and the Counties. Schumer strongly feels that DOI/BIA should review and address the above concerns and adopt fair protections for the local governments' and business' financial health. Schumer urged the Nation and Counties to negotiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the parties' respective responsibilities and authorities over issues of public safety, including law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical services, and observing standards of environmental safety and building codes commonly accepted as standard in municipal activities.
Schumer said his position on the landintotrust process has long been clear. He is deeply skeptical of its suitability, especially in areas where a significant portion of the community is opposed to it.
Schumer said: "It is imperative that these questions are fully answered before a final decision is made. This will go a long way towards easing tensions and helping all parties reach a mutually agreeable solution."