Target: EPA Region 9 Director Alexis Strauss
Goal: Reimburse farmers for damages caused by Gold King mine spill.
Last August, EPA workers spilled millions of gallons of waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers while attempting to clean up an abandoned mine. This environmental catastrophe forced farmers to close irrigation ditches vital to their livelihood. Over a year after the incident, many farmers affected by the spill have yet to be reimbursed. We demand that they be compensated for their losses.
At a meeting between local, state and indigenous tribal officials in Farmington, New Mexico, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye stated that a year after the spill, many farmers and the city of Farmington itself have not been reimbursed for their losses and the response effort. Of the $516,000 spent by the city of Farmington to respond to the spill, only $110,000 has been reimbursed by the EPA.
A number of lawsuits have already been filed against the state of Colorado, the EPA and many mining companies. The Navajo Nation is one group disproportionately affected by the spill. They are currently filing a lawsuit against the EPA for its misconduct. The EPA has also found many other mines similar to Gold King in the Silverton area that could pose a threat to groundwater. Further funds should be allocated to help study and prevent this from happening.
Dear Director Strauss,
The EPA’s attempt at cleaning the Gold King Mine was a complete disaster. As a result, many farmers were unable to grow crops essential to their livelihood. Many of these farmers could not afford such losses. On top of that, the city of Farmington, New Mexico paid over $500,000 in response to the cleanup and as of today, less than one quarter of that has been reimbursed by the EPA.
A year is already too long for these farmers–many of them Native American–to wait. They need financial assistance immediately. As your agency was the cause of this catastrophe, it is only right that your agency rectify the problem. In addition to funds for the farmers, we urge you to create a better communication network between local, state and federal agencies so that future detection and cleanup measures take effect as quickly as possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jerry McBride