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This week, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Henrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced The Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015. This is rapid response legislation. The bill ensures that those who suffered losses from the August 5 Gold King mine toxic waste spill quickly receive the compensation they deserve.

Solving the Immediate Needs of Communities

The bill also requires EPA to fund long-term monitoring of the waters affected by the spill. In addition, the bill suggests that EPA, in consultation with communities and Tribes, build a water treatment plant and consider adding the disaster site to the Superfund National Priorities List. Finally, EPA must create a high priority list of the most dangerous abandoned and inactive mines and develop clean up plans.

Solving the Long-Term Needs of Communities

This is an important first step in addressing the immediate needs of the communities affected by the Gold King disaster. This bill is not 1872 Mining Law reform. We expect that legislation soon. Reforming the 1872 Mining Law means a polluters pay funding source for clean up, strong environmental standards, and granting federal land managers some discretion to balance mining with any other land use.

We appreciate the need for immediate Congressional action to compensate victims and protect water quality in the wake of this disaster. For a long-term solution, we need to move our mining law in to the 21st century.