Dems, GOP Pass Bill Forcing EPA To Reimburse States For Gold King Mine Spill


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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Republican and Democrat lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal Thursday that would essentially hold the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fully responsible for the Gold King Mine spill in 2015.

Republican Sens. Cory Gardner, Orrin Hatch and John McCain were among a slew of lawmakers who introduced an amendment Monday to a bill that would force the EPA to account for the massive costs associated with the spill that released three million gallons of wastewater that poisoned waterways in three Western states.

The amendment received bipartisan support from Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Tom Udall of New Mexico.

The spill dumped more than 880,000 pounds of toxic elements — like lead and arsenic — into the water.

Hatch, one of the GOP senators spearheading the proposal, said the bill would force the EPA to pony up troves of money to fix the mess that affected Nevada, Colorado, Utah, and the Navajo Nation.

“This spill had a significant adverse impact on many downstream communities and businesses throughout multiple Western states—including Utah,” Hatch said in a press statement Thursday.

“I am pleased that the Senate approved this legislation,” he added, “and I strongly urge the House to follow suit. Passing this bill is a critical first step in helping our communities heal and rebuild.”

It would also force the EPA to work with those areas hurt by the spill to implement a, “long-tem water quality monitoring program of the rivers contaminated by the spill.”

The amendment was included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a $9.4 billion waterways bill providing emergency funding for citizens in Flint, Mich. harmed by the city’s lead crisis.

The Obama administration and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy initially called the Gold King Mine spill an accident.

McCarthy said the spill was an “unfortunate accident” in a 2015 speech but changed her tune thereafter. She avoided labeling the spill an “accident” in her prepared testimony before House lawmakers in 2015, for instance, instead calling the spill an “unfortunate incident.”

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