New Mexico became the first state to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for spilling three million gallons of toxic sludge into the state's waterways last year.
The lawsuit was filed after lawmakers had complained that the EPA has been unresponsive to the plight of several western states after the August 2015 spill, which started after agency contractors attempted to open an abandoned gold mine in Colorado that resulted in an uncontrolled blowout.
A bill was introduced in the Senate last week that directs the agency to pay the states for the cost of cleaning up the toxic mess that sullied their waterways. But it appears New Mexico can't wait for Congress to act.
The lawsuit filed in federal court Monday says the environmental effects of the spill were far worse than the EPA claimed publicly. The state wants to be paid back for its disaster response work after the spill, as well as long-term funding for environmental monitoring.
It also wants compensation for lost revenue due to the spill, as well as funds to repair the state's image after the toxic spill detracted from tourism.
"We tried over seven months to pursue a diplomatic path forward," State Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn told the Farmington Daily Times in an interview. The regional newspaper said Flynn wants the EPA to be held accountable for promises it made to address the spill.