BEGAYE COMMENDS SILVERTON AND SAN JUAN COUNTY FOR JOINING EFFORT TO DESIGNATE UPPER ANIMAS WATERSHED AS SUPERFUND SITE
Window Rock – President Russell Begaye released the following statement today commending the Town of Silverton and San Juan County for joining the effort to list the mining district in the Upper Animas watershed as a Superfund site. The Durango Herald reports that after 20 years of debate, the town of Silverton will begin to officially engage the United States Environmental Agency to add the mining district to the National Priorities List.
“It is well past time for the United States Environmental Protection Agency to step up and protect downstream communities by addressing pollution in the Animas River Basin. The first step in this process is to list the Upper Animas Mining District as a Superfund site. This will provide much needed funding and technical assistance to responsibly address the threats posed by the District.
“The health and well-being of the region should be of primary importance to the USEPA. We applaud the Town of Silverton and San Juan County for joining the effort to convince the agency to list this polluted area on the National Priorities List. The EPA now needs to move quickly to get the mining district listed and to address the serious contamination and harms caused by the mines.”
Window Rock – President Russell Begaye today released the following statement on the United States Department of Interior report on the Gold King Mine Spill. According to theAssociated Press, which received an advanced copy of the report prior to its public release, the Interior Department found that “an EPA cleanup crew rushed its work and failed to consider the complex engineering involved” and triggered “the very blowout it hoped to avoid.” The Interior report directly refutes the EPA’s assertion that the blowout was “likely inevitable.”
Window Rock – President Russell Begaye issued the following statement today on the Federal Emergency Management Agency denying the Navajo Nation’s request for an Emergency Declaration in response to the Gold King Mine spill:
BEGAYE APPLAUDS NEW MEXICO DELEGATION CALL FOR PROMPT ACTION ON NAVAJO EMERGENCY DECLARATION REQUEST
WINDOW ROCK – President Russell Begaye today applauded members of the New Mexico congressional delegation for asking the White House to act on the Navajo Nation’s formal request for an Emergency Declaration due to the Gold King Mine spill. In a letter sent to President Barack Obama yesterday, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Representatives Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the president to take prompt action on theNavajo Nation’s request.
“I applaud Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Representatives Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham for calling for prompt action on our request for an Emergency Declaration due to the Gold King Mine Spill. This disaster has culturally and economically devastated our Nation and inflicted an enormous amount of pain and suffering on our people.
“We need greater support from the Obama Administration to address the crisis and protect the livelihood of our farmers.
Earlier this week, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake sent a separate letter to President Obama asking for a swift review of the Navajo Nation’s request.
WINDOW ROCK – President Russell Begaye today applauded Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for asking the White House to acknowledge the Navajo Nation’s formal request for an Emergency Declaration due to the Gold King Mine spill. In a letter sent to President Barack Obama yesterday, the senators urged the president to swiftly review and respond to the Navajo Nation’s request. President Obama has not commented on the devastating impact of the Gold King Mine spill and the White House has not responded to the numerous requests for Federal support to address this crisis.
“I applaud Senators McCain and Flake for urging President Obama to swiftly review and respond to our request for an Emergency Declaration due to the Gold King Mine Spill caused by the actions of the United States Department of Environmental Affairs. This disaster has culturally and economically devastated our Nation and inflicted an enormous amount of pain and suffering on our people.
“President Obama has not only been slow to respond to our request for additional assistance, he has not acknowledged the damage that the U.S. EPA and other responsible parties have caused to the Navajo Nation. We need greater support from the Obama Administration to help our people recover from this crisis, and I thank Senators McCain and Flake for championing our cause.”
Window Rock – President Russell Begaye today issued the following statement on concerns regarding EPA compensation for financial damages resulting from the Gold King Mine spill:
“I commend Attorney General Ethel Branch and the Navajo Department of Justice for officially requesting that the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Justice assure that all claims, known and unknown, resulting from the Gold King Mine spill are fairly and completely satisfied. We need to verify that our people and their injuries will not go ignored and that the United States Federal Government will act in good faith to address this crisis.
“Following the Gold King Mine spill, the U.S. EPA sent staff to the Navajo Nation to encourage our people to sign Standard Form 95 to expedite the settlement of their claims. The forms contained a significant limiting clause that, despite assurances from the U.S. EPA, could limit the ability of those affected by this disaster to be fully compensated. We need greater assurances from the Federal Government that the fine print included in these documents will not cheat our people out of the full financial compensation that they are entitled to.
“I am disappointed that our people were urged to blindly sign these forms. Due to this spill, we have lost confidence in the U.S. EPA, and believe nobody should put their faith in the agency’s forms and related claims process without firm assurance from the Federal Government that our people will be fairly and fully compensated.
“Additionally, there is a distinction between the Navajo Nation lawsuit against the U.S. EPA and that of personal or class action lawsuits filed by our farmers. While this process is ongoing, the Navajo Nation is working with our Congressional leaders in Washington to establish a source for farmers to be compensated quickly.
“The fear expressed by political leaders that farmers will not be quickly compensated is unfounded. Representatives of my administration have, in nationally televised hearings in Washington, urgently expressed the need to compensate our people quickly. We continue to push for this.
“Navajo Nation leaders need to be united in our efforts to address this crisis and not create uncertainty just to score political points. I am committed to holding the U.S. EPA accountable for their role in causing this disaster, and I will continue to fight to ensure that our people are fully and fairly compensated.”