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Bill aims to address claims arising from spill at Gold King Mine






Gilbert Harrison, a farmer on the Navajo Nation, told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on September 16, 2015, that he lost 50 percent of his crops because the San Juan River has been contaminated by toxic waste from the Gold King Mine. Photo from Facebook

Lawmakers from New Mexico and Colorado introduced a bill on Tuesday to address claims arising from the spill at the Gold King Mine.

S.2063, the Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act, creates an Office of Gold King Mine Spill Claims to "expeditiously" help people who were affected by the release of an estimated 3 million gallons of toxic waste from the abandoned mine in Colorado. It also requires the Environmental Protection Agency to consult with the Navajo Nation, the Southern Ute Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe on long-term cleanup plans for the Animas River and the San Juan River in both states.

“Families in northwestern New Mexico and on the Navajo Nation deserve to be fairly and fully compensated for the damages incurred after the Gold King Mine spill,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said in a press release. “I share the anger and frustration over this terrible accident and have demanded that the EPA act with urgency to protect our communities and repair the damage inflicted on the watershed."

The bill also urges the EPA to consult the tribes and affected communities regarding the potential designation of the Upper Animas Mining District in Colorado as a Superfund site. That would bring more funding and resources to an area with more than 300 abandoned mines, including the Gold King Mine.

Get the Story:
Lawmakers introduce bill to help Gold King Mine spill victims (The Farmington Daily Times 9/23)
Legislation seeks EPA payouts for mine spill (The Albuquerque Journal 9/23)
Senator announces legislation in wake of mine-waste spill (AP 9/22)

Committee Notices:
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology: Holding EPA Accountable for Polluting Western Waters (September 9, 2015)
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee: Oversight of the Cause, Response, and Impacts of EPA’s Gold King Mine Disaster (September 16, 2015)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee: Oversight Hearing on "EPA's Gold King Mine Disaster: Examining the Harmful Impacts to Indian Country" (September 16, 2015)
House Natural Resources Committee and House Oversight Committee: Joint Oversight Hearing on “EPA’s Animas Spill" (September 17, 2015)

Related Stories:
EPA chief faces fire for dealings with tribes after mine disaster (9/17)
House committees hold long hearing into Gold King Mine spill (9/18)
EPA Administrator to appear at three Gold King Mine hearings (9/11)
Navajo Nation cites 'culture of distrust' with Gold King Mine spill (09/10)
Navajo Nation hosts Erin Brockovich after spill at Gold King Mine (9/9)
House committee to hold first hearing into Gold King Mine spill (9/8)
Navajo Nation welcomes Erin Brockovich in aftermath of disaster (9/7)
Navajo Nation hires firm to pursue Gold King Mine spill lawsuit (9/1)
Multiple Capitol Hill hearings set into disaster at Gold King Mine (8/31)
Navajo Nation to reopen irrigation canal after Gold King mine spill (8/28)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes respond to toxic spill at abandoned mine (8/25)
Navajo Nation remains cautious after spill impacts water system (8/21)
Navajo Nation farmers losing crops amid mine spill concerns (8/18)
Leader of EPA visits Navajo Nation after mine spill in Colorado (8/13)
President of Navajo Nation upset with EPA's response to spill (8/12)
Navajo Leader: 'This is an assault on who we are as Dine people' (8/11)
Navajo Nation to sue EPA over release of mine waste into waters (8/10)