November 28, 2016

US Supreme Court asks DOJ to weigh in on Gold King Mine suit

Photo of Gold King Mine spill results. Photo via Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Supreme Court wants the Department of Justice to weigh in on a lawsuit the state of New Mexico filed against the state of Colorado over the Gold King Mine spill that occurred in 2015.

The Call for the Views of the Solicitor General, as the order is known, was part of orders released Monday. The Supreme Court did not grant any new cases.

The call asks for the Solicitor General to weigh in on the case, though the federal government is not involved in the lawsuit.

According to The Hill, the request likely will not be fulfilled before Jan. 20, when President-Elect Donald Trump is sworn in.

“The environmental and economic consequences of Colorado and EPA’s decisions have been catastrophic for New Mexico’s people, environment, and economy,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas wrote in the complaint.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Hoffman called New Mexico’s lawsuit “unfortunate.”

“An interstate lawsuit just gives the [Environment Protection Agency] another excuse to delay and does nothing for the environment or the citizens that have been impacted,” Hoffman said in a statement earlier this year. “It could take years, even decades, to resolve this costly litigation.”

Since the dispute is between two states, only the U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to rule on the lawsuit.

The state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation have also filed separate lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over the spill. The federal department was contracted with a company on legacy contamination cleanup of the abandoned mine in southwestern Colorado. The company cause the blowout, which led to millions of gallons of contaminated water spilling down the Animas River into northwest New Mexico, then into Utah.