DURANGO, Colo. – Several of Colorado’s top politicians will hold a joint town hall meeting Friday afternoon directly after they tour the Gold King Mine with Environmental Protection Agency staffers, including the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt.
Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Scott Tipton and Durango Mayor Dick White will be among those attending the tour and subsequent town hall meeting, which will come a day before the two-year anniversary of the mine spill.
The town hall meeting is scheduled to run from 2:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the La Plata County Administration Building on E. 2nd Avenue in Durango. Doors will open at 1:45 p.m.
A joint news release from Colorado’s representatives say those in attendance “will provide an update of their meeting and take questions from attendees.”
“Our office is urging the EPA to be inclusive and meet with as many community leaders as possible during his visit,” Bennet said in a statement. “We hope administrator Pruitt will coordinate with us to ensure these important local voices are heard during his visit here.”
EPA contractors accidentally triggered the massive spill on Aug. 5, 2015, which dumped 3 million gallons of mine wastewater into the Animas River, which then spread into rivers in southwestern Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
Various governments and other entities filed $1.2 billion in claims they sought the EPA to repay for the spill, but has only ended up paying out a few million dollars. The EPA has said it had so far dedicated more than $29 million to addressing the mine spill.
In March, the EPA paid out another $54,000 to Colorado entities – most of which went to La Plata County.
And in June, the EPA said it was studying whether it could close the bulkhead inside the mine. The Gold King mine is part of the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site, which includes 47 other sites. The EPA is mapping old mining tunnels and underground fissures to determine if they can close the bulkhead.
And on Thursday, Bennet, along with Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, announced they were introducing new legislation to reform mining laws written in 1872. They are all still pushing for the EPA to reimburse some of the victims of the mine spill, especially on the Navajo Nation.