Native Americans Demand Mining Reform After Colorado Toxic River Spill

Native American tribes and environmental groups urge to reform outdated mining rules on federal lands.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Native American tribes and environmental groups urged the US departments of the interior and agriculture to reform outdated mining rules on federal lands following a toxic spill in Colorado’s Animas River, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The Animas disaster only accentuates the urgency for federal agencies and the mining industry to do a much better job of protecting our precious land, air, and water,” Hualapai Nation Councilwoman Sherry Counts said in the release.

The groups including CBD presented a 74-page petition urging four key changes to federal mining regulations to help protect western water resources from future environmental disasters like Animas River.

The spill occurred after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this month accidentally discharged toxic materials into the river while cleaning the Gold King Mine.

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The petition, submitted under the federal Administrative Procedure Act, requests that the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service limit the lifetime of a mine permit and impose enforceable reclamation deadlines and groundwater monitoring requirements on mines, the CBD said.

They also want closed mines regularly monitored and inspected, and limits set to the number of years that a mine can remain inactive, the release said.

“The Animas River disaster must mark the end of the days where irresponsible mining threatens our region’s livable future,” Anne Mariah Tapp, energy program director for the Grand Canyon Trust, said in the release.

“Our coalition’s petition provides the federal agencies with a reasonable path forward that will benefit western communities, taxpayers, water resources, and our most treasured landscapes,” she said.

Most of these toxic mines, including the Gold King Mine, exist because a 1872 mining law that is still in effect does not require cleanup, the CBD said.

The petition is supported by the Havasupai and Hualapai Tribes of Arizona and the Zuni Tribe of New Mexico.

Other US environmental organizations supporting it include the Grand Canyon Trust, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, the Sierra Club, the Information Network For Responsible Mining and Uranium Watch.

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