August 18, 2015

Udall Welcomes Upcoming Senate Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing on Impact of Gold King Mine Spill on Navajo Nation

WASHINGTON ­- U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today joined Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to thank Senate Indian Affairs Committee leadership for agreeing to hold an oversight hearing on the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gold King Mine spill on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona, as well as other issues of concern. Udall and McCain, both members of the committee, sent a letter to Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Vice Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) earlier today requesting this hearing.

"We appreciate Chairman Barrasso and Vice Chairman Tester's commitment to holding a Senate Indian Affairs Committee oversight hearing on the impact of the EPA Gold King Mine spill on the Navajo Nation," said Udall and McCain. "Through our ongoing conversations with leaders of the Navajo Nation, we understand their dissatisfaction with the EPA's response to the spill, and share their concerns that toxic substances might flow onto their lands and waters. Congress has a responsibility to oversee the federal government's response to this crisis, and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing will ensure that the EPA explains the public health, environmental, and economic costs of the spill, and its remediation plans, as well as addresses other problematic EPA activities involving the Navajo Nation."

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

August 18, 2015

The Honorable John Barrasso
Chairman
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jon Tester
Vice Chairman
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Barrasso and Vice Chairman Tester:

We respectfully request that you hold an oversight hearing on the impact of the EPA Gold King Mine spill on the Navajo Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in the country. There are also a number of other EPA activities involving the Navajo Nation, like the cleanup of Cold War era uranium mining, that also deserve additional scrutiny.

We have been in contact with Navajo Nation leadership and they continue to be dissatisfied with EPA's response to the Gold King Mine crisis. While the spill appears to be diluted to the point where it is not as visible, the environmental, economic, and cultural cost borne by the Navajo people has yet to be fully understood. As you know, the San Juan River is an important source of water not only for human consumption but for agriculture purposes. During the peak of the spill, some farmers were forced to travel many miles from their homes to find enough drinkable water for their livestock.

We applaud your ongoing leadership on this issue and your continued support for the Navajo Nation during this incident.

Sincerely,

John McCain
Tom Udall