Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement regarding the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing an additional $63,406 to assist La Plata County in its cleanup efforts related to the Gold King Mine spill.
"This is a step in the right direction for the local governments who were affected by the spill," Bennet said. "However, the EPA still has work to do to make La Plata County whole. We will continue to fight for full reimbursement from the agency."
On August 5, 2015 the Gold King Mine spill emptied three million gallons of contaminated wastewater into the Animas River turning it bright orange and damaging communities downstream. Since the spill, Bennet has worked to ensure that the EPA addresses all of the local communities' concerns and prioritizes funding for cleanup of the spill. Two weeks ago, Senator Bennet met with elected officials from La Plata County, San Juan County, Durango, and Silverton regarding the spill, reimbursements, and long-term monitoring. After those meetings, he called EPA Administrator McCarthy to urge her to fully reimburse all of the affected counties, cities, and tribes.
Senator Bennet also recently joined Senator Cory Gardner, Congressman Scott Tipton, and Governor John Hickenlooper in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to implement the Superfund designation in a way that works for the region and move the claims and reimbursement process forward quickly. In Congress, he has introduced The Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act to ensure the EPA compensates all communities and tribes affected by the spill and the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 to update our mining laws and provide funding for cleaning up abandoned mine sites. He is also working with Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton on Good Samaritan legislation that would allow local groups to help clean up the hundreds of abandoned mine sites across the state. [press release]