Lujan and DeGette call for oversight hearing on Gold King Mine Spill

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LUJAN AND DEGETTE CALL FOR OVERSIGHT HEARING ON GOLD KING MINE SPILL

Washington, D.C. – Representatives Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Diana DeGette of Colorado have called for an oversight hearing on the Gold King Mine spill that released 3 million gallons of wastewater into the Animas and San Juan Rivers.  Both members serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. DeGette is Ranking Member on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy requesting the hearing.

“The EPA’s Office of Inspector General has announced plans to examine both the cause of this spill and the agency’s response. In addition, Administrator Gina McCarthy has indicated that the EPA will initiate an independent investigation of the disaster,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “We request that the Energy and Commerce Committee hold a hearing to carefully examine these reviews so that we can identify what happened and ensure that the spill is cleaned up; that those responsible are held accountable; and that impacted communities are made whole. Since there are thousands of abandoned mines, we must work together to prevent similar disasters from occurring in the future.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

August 21, 2015

The Honorable Fred Upton                         The Honorable Tim Murphy                                   
Chairman                                                         Chairman
Energy and Commerce Committee            Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
2123 Rayburn House Office Building        2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C., 20515-1301                     Washington D.C., 20515-1301

Dear Chairman Upton and Chairman Murphy:

On August 5, 2015, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) team working to investigate and address contamination at the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colorado unexpectedly initiated a large release of mine waste water into the upper portions of Cement Creek.
 
Three million gallons of waste water flowed down the Animas River into the San Juan River. The plume of pollution caused a surge of heavy metals and harmful contaminants – including lead, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and mercury – that threatened the safety of precious water resources that many utilize for irrigation, drinking water, their animals, and other traditional or cultural practices. As a result, water restrictions were put in place and the States of Colorado, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation each declared a state emergency.  
 
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General has announced plans to examine both the cause of this spill and the agency’s response. In addition, Administrator Gina McCarthy has indicated that the EPA will initiate an independent investigation of the disaster. We request that the Energy and Commerce Committee hold a hearing to carefully examine these reviews so that we can identify what happened and ensure that the spill is cleaned up; that those responsible are held accountable; and that impacted communities are made whole. Since there are thousands of abandoned mines, we must work together to prevent similar disasters from occurring in the future.
 
Attached, please find two letters. The first is an August 10th letter to Administrator McCarthy expressing significant concerns with the EPA’s initial response and its failure to adequately communicate with impacted communities. The second is a letter to the President expressing the need to focus all available federal resources to address this disaster.    
 
We look forward to hearing from you on this important issue.  

Sincerely,


Ben Ray Luján                                                                  Diana DeGette                       
Member of Congress                                                        Member of Congress

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