Supports Long-Term Monitoring of Animas River, Calls for Reimbursements for Costs Incurred by States and Tribes - Calls for Improvements to Overall Bill
Washington, D.C. - The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved the Interior Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017 with provisions secured by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet in support of the recovery efforts following the Gold King Mine spill in southwest Colorado. Unfortunately, the bill also scales back investments in programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and includes a number of controversial policy provisions that need to be removed prior to consideration by the full Senate.
"The effects of the Gold King Mine spill resonated far beyond the banks of the Animas River in southwest Colorado," Bennet said. "While the Interior Appropriations bill contains a number of controversial provisions, we're glad the Committee recognizes the effects of the Gold King Mine spill and is taking steps to ensure communities can fully recover. Long-term water monitoring will be especially important to ensure cleanup efforts are effective and to inform communities as they use the river. We'll work to improve the bill when it comes to the Senate floor, while protecting these key provisions that support southwest Colorado's recovery efforts."
The Committee report accompanying the bill includes language calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use resources for long-term monitoring of water quality in the Animas River, which was contaminated by the spill. It also urges the EPA to fully reimburse states, tribes, and local governments for the costs they incurred and directs EPA and the Justice Department to quickly make decisions on claims made by businesses who suffered damages from the spill.
Since the spill, Bennet has constantly urged both Congress and the Administration to support the recovery efforts. He has written to the Appropriations Committee multiple times urging support for funding for cleanup efforts. He has also pressed the EPA and the President to ensure that long-term monitoring is robust and that the state, tribes, local communities and businesses are appropriately compensated.
Bennet also introduced a bill to ensure communities in Colorado and New Mexico are appropriately compensated for the costs and damages they suffered as a result of the spill. The bill would set up an Office of Gold King Mine Spill Claims within the EPA to expeditiously carry out compensation for property, business and financial losses.