Update from Congressman Scott Tipton
After learning that three million gallons of contaminated water were released into Cement Creek and the Animas River after the EPA breached the mine adit, I shared Coloradans’ concerns about the EPA’s lack of urgency and confusion over why the agency was performing the remediation without adequate engineering expertise on site when the accident occurred.
A year after the spill, I am still alarmed by the lack of accountability we have seen from the EPA. I recognize that the agency has made some progress, but we will continue to hold them to their word that they will take full responsibility for the spill, which includes ensuring clean drinking water and reimbursements for all affected communities.
What we have learned from the Gold King Mine accident is that it is clear we need a better approach when it comes to cleaning up contamination in old abandoned mine sites in Colorado and the West. This is an issue I have been focused on for years in Congress, as I have continuously worked toward passing Good Samaritan legislation. The idea at the heart of the Good Samaritan legislation is to remove existing hurdles that discourage Good Samaritan groups that have the technical expertise to conduct successful remediation from cleaning up abandoned mines and providing our communities and environment with a valuable service.
I have always contended that in order for Good Samaritan legislation to be effective, it must include strong permitting requirements to ensure that would-be Good Samaritans have the expertise and financial ability needed to responsibly take on these complex cleanup projects. But I also firmly believe that Good Samaritan groups must be protected from civilian-led civil lawsuits. Should a Good Samaritan group violate the conditions of its permit, it should be held accountable by the permitting authority.
One year after the Gold King Mine spill, we’re still working to make wronged parties whole and finalize a long-term solution to abandoned mine cleanup, but we’ve also witnessed the resilience and commitment of Coloradans. The resilience in the face of unimaginable, unexpected challenges and a commitment to restoring the health and beauty of our communities are characteristics that make me so proud to serve the people of the Third Congressional District of Colorado. Thank you for giving me this honor.