Supreme Court will not hear New Mexico’s mine spill case

June 27, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear arguments on a New Mexico lawsuit against Colorado over a 2015 mine waste spill that polluted rivers in both states and Utah, The Denver Post reported.

New Mexico sued Colorado in 2016 over the wasterwater spill from the Gold King Mine in August 2015. That spill occurred when an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) crew accidentally breached the water-filled mine, unleashing millions of gallons of water in the Animas River. In its case, New Mexico argued that Colorado should be held accountable for the contamination as well as decades of toxic drainage from other abandoned mines.

The U.S. Supreme Court said New Mexico could pursue its claims in a lower court.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman praised the decision and said New Mexico should not have sued Colorado because the EPA caused the disaster.

“Now that my office has won the Supreme Court case, I hope the conversation can focus on the EPA and its promise to take full responsibility for its actions,” Coffman said in a statement.

James Hallinan, a spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, said the Supreme Court’s ruling only limited the venue in which Colorado can be sued for harm done to New Mexico.

“Attorney General Balderas will continue to fight for economic, social and environmental justice until New Mexico is compensated appropriately by all parties responsible for the horrific impacts of the Gold King Mine Spill,” Hallinan said.

 

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