PRUITT TO VISIT GOLD KING
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and Colorado’s top politicians will tour the Gold King Mine on Friday.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is slated to tour the Gold King Mine on Friday along with Colorado’s top politicians — including U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper — though it’s unclear what the group plans to do on their trip.
The EPA declined to even acknowledge the gathering, with an agency spokeswoman saying she could not share details of Pruitt’s schedule.
Staffers for Gardner, Hickenlooper and Bennet confirmed the event but directed further questions to the EPA. A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said the congressman also would probably be there.
A spokeswoman for Hickenlooper said, “We are still working through details.”
The Gold King Mine was where more than 3 million gallons of wastewater was spilled by an EPA crew on Aug. 5, 2015.
The release turned the Animas River a mustardyellow color as wastewater moved down the river — through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and American Indian land — and eventually reached the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
The anniversary of the disaster is Saturday. Colorado Politics first reported Pruitt’s plans to visit the site.
Gardner invited Pruitt to tour the Gold King Mine in March, weeks after his nomination to lead the EPA was confirmed.
In February, when the U.S. Senate was still weighing Pruitt’s nomination, Gardner said Pruitt promised to address reimbursements denied by the EPA and “fulfill the promises that were broken under the Obama administration.”
“He assured me that he is going to make it right and that he is going to work with the people that EPA injured — and those who experienced economic losses — and make sure that they are fully compensated,” the Colorado Republican said on the Senate floor, standing before a photograph showing the impact of the spill.
Bennet, in a written statement, urged Pruitt to meet with communities impacted by the spill during his visit to the Gold King, which is just outside of Silverton in southwest Colorado.
“We hope Administrator Pruitt will coordinate with us to ensure these important local voices are heard during his visit here,” the statement said.
The EPA has designated the Gold King and surrounding mine sites for Superfund cleanup. Crews have been working to stop toxic wastewater from flowing from Gold King to the other portals that dot Silverton’s surroundings and leech millions of gallons of wastewater into one of the Southwest’s most important watersheds each day.
Pruitt has been working to streamline the Superfund program and last week received recommendations on how to improve the federal cleanup initiative.