WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gold King Mine spill was highlighted this week in a Twitter spat on Capitol Hill.
On Valentine’s Day, members of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources took to social media to air their disagreement over the elimination of the Stream Protection Rule by the House and the Senate.
The Stream Protection Rule was a regulation passed late in Barack Obama’s presidency that prevented coal mining companies from dumping mining waste into streams and waterways.
In the first tweet, Democrats on the committee tweeted a Valentine’s Day poem saying that rivers are turning orange, so the Republicans shouldn’t have gotten rid of the rule.
In response, Republicans on the committee tweeted their own poem, accusing the Democrats of being at fault for rivers turning orange, attaching a picture of the Animas River during the Gold King Mine spill. Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, whose district includes Southwest Colorado, is a member of the committee.
The Aug. 5, 2015, mine spill was triggered by contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency. It released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River. The mustard yellow mining sludge traveled into the San Juan River and affected four states – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. The EPA took responsibility for the spill and paid some cleanup costs, but the agency has not reimbursed communities for the full extent of claims. New Mexico has filed a lawsuit over the spill, and some communities are appealing claims decisions. The agency also denied all claims filed by businesses and individuals for losses from the spill.
The joint resolution overturning the Stream Protection Rule was signed by President Donald Trump on Thursday.
Shira Stein is a reporting intern for the Herald in Washington, D.C., and a student at American University. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @stein_shira.