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Gov. Stitt sues U.S. Department of Interior for unlawful federal overreach

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Posted at 9:45 AM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 10:45:47-04

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Interior, Secretary Deb Halaand, and other Biden administration officials for unlawfully attempting to strip Oklahoma of its jurisdiction to regulate surface coal mining and reclamation operations.

Gov. Stitt gave this statement about the lawsuit:

“The Department of the Interior and other defendants, in this case, are dead wrong about their decision. They are attempting to unlawfully federalize mines that have been regulated by Oklahoma for almost 40 years by ignoring the clear limitations in the McGirt decision. Despite multiple attempts at dialogue, the Biden Interior Department has refused to adequately explain their legal position. The state of Oklahoma has no choice but to pursue legal action.”

According to the lawsuit, numerous steps are required before the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement can take over a state program. None of these steps were followed.

“The federal court should stop the Biden administration’s improper act in its tracks and declare that jurisdiction remains with the state,” Stitt continues in his statement.

Oklahoma Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani says this about the Biden administration's actions:

“This action ignores the law and the reality that Oklahoma has managed these operations for decades. The administration’s action jeopardizes the safe operation of coal mining and mine reclamation, state funding, and the jobs of state employees that have been performing this work for many years.”

The lawsuit is arguing that the Department of the Interior is relying on a novel and erroneous expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which was explicitly limited to the application of federal criminal law under the Major Crimes Act.

A copy of the lawsuit is available on the Oklahoma government's website.

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