EPA awarding additional reimbursements based on Bennet’s legislation
Alamosa, CO - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded additional reimbursements for response costs related to the Gold King Mine cleanup:
"The EPA's decision to award additional funds means a great deal to our communities," Bennet said. "This money will allow Coloradans to continue recovering from the spill, and shift their focus to working with the EPA through the Superfund process to clean up the Upper Animas River watershed. We will continue to fight budget cuts to the EPA that would hinder the vital recovery and cleanup effort, while pushing the EPA to provide the remaining reimbursements to make Southwest Colorado communities whole again."
Last year, Bennet added bipartisan provisions to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act that directed the EPA to reimburse local municipalities and tribes for costs related to response efforts following the spill. In August 2016, the EPA awarded a first round of reimbursements. Today, the EPA announced it would provide additional reimbursements that total $54,275. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe will receive $812.49, the City of Durango will receive $1,072.63, the San Juan Basin Health Department will receive $13,611.22, and La Plata County will receive $38,779.06.
The Gold King Mine disaster took place in August 2015 near Silverton and resulted in more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water spilling into the Animas and San Juan Rivers. Since then, Bennet has continued to push for legislation in Congress to help communities recover and ensure that these types of disasters don't happen again. Last year, Bennet introduced a bill to make certain communities in Colorado and New Mexico were appropriately compensated for the costs and damages they suffered as a result of the spill. He worked to secure a bipartisan version of this bill in the WIIN Act. Bennet has also worked across the aisle with Senator Gardner and Congressman Tipton on legislation that allows stakeholder groups to cleanup environmental sites.