Bennet Statement Regarding Gold King Mine Spill Decision

WIIN Act now moves to the Senate

Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement regarding the final decisions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on outstanding costs related to the Gold King Mine spill.

"Since last August, we've been pushing the EPA to fulfill their long overdue commitment to the State, Indian tribes, and local governments who responded quickly to the spill," Bennet said. "The communities in southwest Colorado paid money out of their own pockets to maintain drinking water, provide for extra staffing costs, keep the public updated, provide water for irrigation, and monitor water quality. Although we're relieved the EPA has finally ended its long drawn-out reimbursement process, it's disappointing that the agency has not reimbursed the communities for more of their costs. We will continue to fight for our measure to enable further reimbursements and establish a long-term water monitoring program."

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, Senator Bennet has worked to ensure that the EPA addresses all local communities' concerns and prioritizes funding for cleanup of the spill.

In September 2016, the Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) with a measure sponsored by Senator Bennet to expedite the reimbursement of emergency response costs assumed by States, Indian tribes, and local governments following the spill. A similar provision was included in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act that the House passed on Thursday. Senator Gardner (R-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and John McCain (R-AZ) joined Bennet to introduce the bipartisan amendment. The measure requires the EPA to make decisions on claims within 90 days, which the agency did on Thursday. The measure also allows for claims that include costs incurred beyond October 31, 2015 and establishes a water quality monitoring program.

The WIIN Act, which aims to improve the country's ports, dams, and other infrastructure, will now move to the Senate.