Senate Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday to hold the Environmental Protection Agency accountable for the spill it caused in Colorado last year, dumping 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Finance Committee, joined with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in introducing the Gold King Accountability and Compensation for Taxpayers Act on Wednesday. The waterways of both senators' states were sullied by the spill that occurred at the abandoned Gold King gold mine.
"The EPA must be held accountable for this travesty, and those that were impacted by this man-made disaster should be justly compensated," Hatch said. "I am proud to join Sen. Gardner in introducing legislation that will accomplish both these goals."
The bill would hold the EPA accountable for the over 60 claims filed for compensation because of the spill. It directs the agency to pay for the claims directly from its own budget. The legislation also expedites payouts for the costs of emergency response actions taken on by tribes, counties and local government.
The senators point out that the legislation comes at a time when federal government has reportedly said it will not fully reimburse La Plata Couty in Colorado for the costs it incurred in responding to the accident. The county was forced to declare a state of emergency soon after the spill.
"The EPA-born Gold King Mine disaster financially burdened families, businesses, tribal communities and local governments not only in Colorado, but also neighboring states," Gardner said.
"I'll continue to fight to ensure all of those affected by the Animas River spill are made whole, and encourage my colleagues to join Sen. Hatch and me in rejecting Washington's double standard and holding the EPA fully liable," Gardner added.