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Hearing sought on Gold King spill reimbursement legislation

Gardner, Hatch ask for ‘swift consideration’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Thursday called for a hearing on a bill that would expedite reimbursements to communities impacted by last year’s Gold King Mine spill.

In a letter to senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the pair called for a hearing on Gold King Mine Accountability and Compensation for Taxpayers legislation that they introduced in May.

The bill would require the EPA to fully reimburse communities for expenses caused by the spill. It would also expedite the payout of emergency response costs for tribes, local and state governments. The letter asks for the “swift consideration” of the bill.

It is one of several pieces of legislation pending approval in Congress concerning the spill, as well as good Samaritan legislation for mine reclamation. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced a similar EPA reimbursement bill in September last year that would also require the EPA to compensate those affected by the spill.

Contract workers for the EPA accidentally breached the Gold King Mine adit on Aug. 5, releasing 3 million gallons of chemical-laden water into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River.

“States, communities, tribes, businesses and other stakeholders were significantly impacted by an environmental disaster for which the EPA is wholly accountable,” the letter reads. “This legislation represents a commonsense solution that will provide just compensation to those most affected by this spill.”

Kate Magill is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. Reach her at kmagill@durangoherald.com.

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