‘We weren’t asking for the sky; We were asking for what we lost …’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) It’s been three years since the Gold King Mine incident in southwestern Colorado, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caused a massive spill that led to river pollution in three states.
And yet, the federal government has failed to repay even one victim of the spill, the Associated Press reported.
Altogether, the incident resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of devastation.
Under the administration of President Obama, the EPA promised to pay for the damage, allegedly saying, “We’re going to make people whole.”
Now, residents and business owners affected by the disaster feel like they were misled and doubt they’ll be compensated at all.
The incident came about from the actions of contractors working for the agency, who were doing excavations at the entrance to the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado.
The workers inadvertently released three million gallons of wastewater that had been trapped inside of the mine, unleashing yellow-orange colored waters into rivers in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.
After the spill, business owners relying on the rivers for support sued the EPA for $318 million in economic losses.
Native American tribes residing on the land said their losses were even higher.
While the EPA paid the tribes and local governments for the cost of responding to the spill and for water tests, the Obama administration refused to compensate for any economic losses, citing “sovereign immunity” which in most cases precludes the federal government from being sued.
Response from the Trump administration has been just as slow.
Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt visited the Gold King Mine last year and promised the agency would review the claims, but claimants are skeptical – and Pruitt recently resigned from his position after a series of ethics scandals.
John Flick, co-owner of a fishing guide service affected by the spill, filed a claim for almost $100,000 in lost income.
“We weren’t asking for the sky,” he said. “We were asking for what we lost … even if we’d got half of that, we’d have been happy. We got nothing.”
For more, read the article from the Associated Press here.