September 13, 2016--Senators attempt to expedite Gold King reimbursements (Durango Herald)

A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced a measure that would expedite reimbursements to entities affected by last year’s Gold King Mine spill. Colorado senators Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican, joined Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, John McCain, R-Arizona, and Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, in endorsing the measure, according to a news release. “The EPA is responsible for the Gold King Mine spill, and therefore I’ll fight to hold the agency fully liable and to the same standard as a private company,” said Gardner, who is the original sponsor of the legislation. “I’m proud to lead a bipartisan group of Senators, whose constituents have also been affected, in demanding accountability and transparency from the EPA and fighting to ensure all outstanding costs are addressed.”

In a prepared statement, the senators said they hope to push the Environmental Protection Agency to cover costs incurred beyond Oct. 31, 2015, which the agency said it would not do, barring extenuating circumstances. The measure would require EPA to pay all costs eligible for reimbursement unless the agency proves that the amount is not consistent with what is mandated under federal law. If approved, EPA would have 90 days to pay out claims and give notice whether the agency will pay within 30 days of reaching a decision. It would also establish a water quality-monitoring program, which the EPA would reimburse local agencies to operate. “It’s been more than a year since the Gold King Mine spill, and it’s unacceptable that the EPA still hasn’t fully reimbursed Colorado communities for their costs,” Bennet said in the prepared statement. To veiw the ful article visit the Durango Herald.