Tipton: Gold King Mine Cleanup Untouched By Trump’s EPA Funding Freeze

The Trump administration’s freeze on some environmental spending won’t impact the clean-up of the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado.

That’s according to Liz Payne, a staffer in Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s office. The congressman got assurances from the White House that restoration work and water quality monitoring after the spill will continue.

It’s good news for environmental nonprofits in the region that work closely with the EPA on water quality, including Silverton-based Mountain Studies Institute. Executive Director Marcie Bidwell said a lot of work has been accomplished since the Gold King Mine Spill in 2015, where an EPA contractors accidentally spilled wastewater into the Animas River.

Bidwell pointed to consistency and dependability being key to a successful cleanup effort.

“I don’t think it matters what your politics are, if you don’t know how to predict the game in which you’re involved, it becomes really hard to know how to move forward--even if you’re trying to do so in the best interest of solutions,” she said.

Her organization and the the EPA continue to monitor water quality near the Gold King Mine near Silverton.

The Trump administration ordered the temporary suspension of EPA contracts and grants earlier this week. An EPA Spokeswoman told the Denver Post Wednesday that the agency continues to award environmental program grants and state revolving loan fund grants to states, and that the freeze could be suspended by the end of the week.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment receives $28 million annually in grants from the EPA. Executive Director Larry Wolk said the department is still determining how--or if--it will be impacted.

“We do not have specifics from EPA about the freeze. In the event of a freeze, CDPHE’s leadership team will work together to implement changes so the loss of funding will have the least negative impact to the state’s environment,” he said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.