PRUITT TO VISIT GOLD KING

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

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.

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