Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Senator calls on EPA to do right by tribes in wake of toxic spill

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In response to the recent Gold King Mine discharge, accidentally caused by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy late last week on the agency’s spill response.

“The EPA must work with the tribes to ensure this disaster is taken care of, tribal sovereignty is respected, and that the concerns of the tribes are heard and acted on,” Barrasso said. “The Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe are doing everything they can. It’s time for the EPA to step up and do its part in fixing the problem it created.”

Barrasso expressed concern on the part of Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, who, the letter said, takes issue with the EPA’s distribution of Standard Form 95 documents to tribal members, which disqualifies them from making any future claims if they sign them.

“The EPA must not forget that, besides the individual tribal members, sovereign Indian tribes to whom the United States has a trust responsibility also rely on the water from these two important rivers,” Barrasso said. “The work being conducted upstream in Colorado cannot stop at the City of Durango. That is why I am requesting your agency to immediately work with the affected Indian tribes and begin conducting an analysis on both the current and long-term effects and impacts of the toxic spill.”

EPA Testimony Statements -- http://www.epa.gov/ocir/hearings/testimony/113_2013_2014/2013_2.htm

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