OPINION: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to Visit ‘Gold King Mine’ Site?

By Jessica Goad

It has been reported that President Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will be visiting Southwest Colorado and the Gold King Mine site on Friday with Senator Cory Gardner and Representative Scott Tipton.

Below is some information that may be of interest and lend context to this tour:

President Trump’s budget — which Pruitt defended in front of Congress — proposes slashing the EPA’s Superfund budget by 30 percent, including a 37 percent cut to Superfund enforcement programs.  As a Superfund expert told a U.S. Senate committee earlier this week, “It’s hard to imagine that you can continue to do long-term cleanups with that kind of a draconian cut.”

In addition to the Bonita Peak Mining District, Colorado has 23 Superfund sites.

Earlier this week, House Republicans including Representative Tipton sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to rollback rules for hardrock mining insurance requirements.

The Trump administration has rolled back 131 Obama-era regulations. Forty-nine of these (37 percent) are EPA regulations, an “unprecedented number.”

According to a public opinion research of Colorado voters conducted one year ago on the first anniversary of the Gold King Mine spill:

  • 88 percent believe it’s a problem that tens of thousands Colorado’s polluting mine sites have not been cleaned up.
  • 70 percent say mining companies should be held financially responsible for the damage and pollution that they cause.
  • 53 percent support closing loopholes that allow mining companies to avoid their cleanup responsibilities.

Senator Gardner has voted against the environment eight out of eight times this year.

Scott Pruitt is the antithesis of our Colorado values of protecting our land, air, and water for future generations. We see through his unconvincing attempt to be perceived as a champion for environmental cleanups. Coloradans want their federal and state elected officials — especially Senator Gardner and Representative Tipton — to fight for strong mining reforms and cleanups.

Our state is suffering from toxic pollution from the thousands of mines that still litter our state, and we need our leaders to stand up and advocate for us.

Jessica Goad is the Communications Director for Conservation Colorado.

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