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Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Idaho

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Tribal President Ernie Stensgar accused the Environmental Protection Agency of "grandstanding" to Idaho agencies on agricultural field burning. He said the EPA neglected to notify the tribe of a public hearing in Spokane, Wash.. "The EPA is grandstanding," Stensgar said Sept. 28. "Work with us on a government-to-government basis. That's what they promised." Stensgar said he was upset the letter raising the possibility of agency intervention in the field-burning issue was sent to the media before state and tribal authorities received it. "That certainly was not the intent," the EPA's Lynn McKee said. "We always feel it's definitely a courtesy, even if people know the letter is coming, to see it and look at it before they get a call from the media." The EPA asked for information after a northern Idaho woman's death was attributed to complications from smoke from field burning. The tribe gets a bad reputation for allowing stubble burning on reservation land despite stringent guidelines, Stensgar said. "Every time the burning goes up, it's 'What are those Indians doing again?' We take the heat." An EPA spokesman said the agency wasn't trying to imply the tribe isn't doing its job.