Hickenlooper, Gardner, Bennet to hold town hall
U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, along with Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, will hold a town hall in Durango on Friday afternoon after their trip to the Gold King Mine with EPA chief Scott Pruitt.
The event will be from 2:15 to 3 p.m. at the La Plata County Administration Building.
“They, along with representatives from the EPA, will provide an update of their (Gold King) meeting and take questions from attendees,” the group said in a news release. Pruitt is not slated to join the town hall.
The bipartisan group of Colorado politicians is scheduled to tour the Gold King — just outside of Silverton — on Friday with Pruitt amid the two-year anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 3 million-gallon wastewater spill there.
The Aug. 5, 2015, release turned the Animas River a mustard-yellow color as sludge moved down the waterway — through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and American Indian land.
The anniversary of the disaster is Saturday. The EPA has declined to acknowledge Pruitt’s visit to the mine or provide details on his trip.
Gardner invited Pruitt to tour the Gold King in March, weeks after his nomination to lead the EPA was confirmed.
Gardner has not held an in-person town hall meeting with constituents since March 2016, although he has hosted several telephone town halls (including one Wednesday night) and met with Coloradans in smaller settings.
This week, the state of Utah sued mine owners and contractors for the EPA over the spill.
Utah wants cleanup compensation and unspecified damages, state attorney general spokesman Dan Burton said Tuesday.
Utah hasn’t named a damages amount because it’s still investigating how much it will cost to clean up its portion of spill. Metals have settled into riverbeds, where they can get stirred up any rainstorm or heavy snowmelt, state officials have said.
Total damages from farmers, business owners and residents along the spill’s path have been estimated at $420 million.
Contaminants have been transported through the San Juan River to the vast reservoir of Lake Powell, the lawsuit states.