Recap: New Mexico Democrats Work For Communities Affected by Gold King Mine Spill

New Mexico – Farmers, tribal members, and communities in Northwestern New Mexico will now have expedited claim processing and increased water monitoring thanks to the work of New Mexico Democrats have done to support communities affected by the Gold King Mine Spill. 

In a huge victory for our state, New Mexico’s Democratic Congressional delegation, Senator Tom Udall, Senator Martin Heinrich, Representative Ben Ray Luján, and Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham successfully passed a measure that calls for reimbursements to communities affected by the Gold King Mine Spill.

Below is a recap of coverage of this positive news for New Mexico.

Passage of Bipartisan Measure to Expedite Gold King Mine Spill Recovery, KRWG

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that a bipartisan measure to expedite reimbursements to Tribal, local and state governments for costs incurred in responding to the Gold King Mine spill has passed both Houses of Congress as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). 

Amendment speeds up reimbursements for mine spill, Farmington Daily Times 

Federal lawmakers representing New Mexico say the approval of an amendment to expedite reimbursements for expenses incurred during the Gold King Mine spill is a victory for local governments and residents.

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., announced in a press release on Saturday that an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act had passed both the House and Senate.

NM lawmakers announce passage of measure to expedite Gold King mine spill recovery, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The amendment — authored by Senators Udall and Heinrich on the Senate side and introduced by Luján on the House side, and supported by all four of the lawmakers — forces the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the date to reimburse governments for their emergency response efforts, directs the EPA to quickly address claims filed by individual farmers, and authorizes the EPA to coordinate with governments and pay for water monitoring efforts.

Udall, Heinrich, Luján, Lujan Grisham On Bill Passage To Expedite Gold King Mine Spill Recovery, Los Alamos Daily Post

Finally, the amendment authorizes the EPA to implement a water quality monitoring program in conjunction with state, Tribal and local governments, and to reimburse them for their expenses so far. Udall, the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing the EPA’s budget, successfully included an amendment in the fiscal year 2016 budget directing the EPA to fund independent water quality monitoring, and he has worked to ensure funding for such projects going forward. So far the EPA has dedicated $2.6 million towards this effort but more is needed in future years. This new measure will set the policy in stone and lay the groundwork for further funding to guarantee these efforts are continued as long as necessary to protect drinking water, irrigation water, and public health downstream of the Gold King Mine spill.

New Mexico delegation: Bill has provisions on mine spill, Albuquerque Journal – AP

The lawmakers say provisions force the Environmental Protection Agency to extend the date for reimbursements to governments’ emergency responses, direct the EPA to quickly address farmers’ claims and authorize the EPA to coordinate with governments and pay for water monitoring efforts.