Tuesday, August 18, 2015
CONTACT: Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director at [email protected]

DENVER: As the grandstand against the Environmental Protection Agency over an accidental spill of contaminated mine wastewater into the Animas River nearly two weeks ago continued Tuesday with a visit to Durango by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on right-wing politicians to stop misusing this disaster to further their own political agendas.

“Ben Carson is just the latest and most obvious example of the right wing shamelessly politicizing the Animas River mine water spill,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Carson’s campaign trip to Durango is a distraction that the people working to clean up the Animas River spill, and to prevent future mine waste disasters, do not need. Carson is in Durango to grandstand and misrepresent the EPA’s work cleaning up not just Silverton’s polluting mines, but environmental disasters across the nation caused by irresponsible private industry.”

“When Congressman Scott Tipton was asked if he thought the investigation into the Gold King Mine spill was going to be an ‘exercise in congressional theatre and extended EPA-bashing,’ he said he didn’t think so,” said Ellen Stein of Durango. “Today’s visit to Durango by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson proves Tipton wrong. Carson has nothing to contribute to cleaning up the Animas River.”

“Since the mine water spill almost two weeks ago,” said Stein, “we’ve seen a steady stream of Republican politicians trying to use this event to score political points in their longstanding fight against the federal government on unrelated issues. Mr. Carson is no different. The EPA is taking responsibility for this spill, and the responsible parties will be held accountable. Here in Durango, we know the real problem is the privately-owned mines draining polluted water into our river. That’s the problem the EPA is working to solve and tens of thousands of people along the Animas River, and more further downstream, are counting on them. We need partners and problem solving, not litigation and grandstanding!”

“We need to get to the bottom of what happened, but we can’t allow the vital work the EPA is doing to protect us from Colorado’s legacy of mine pollution to be disrupted by politics,” said Runyon-Harms. “Yesterday, the EPA’s Inspector General announced an investigation into the cause of the Gold King Mine spill. Instead of playing politics and misusing this disaster to undermine the EPA on issues that have nothing to do with cleaning up polluted mines, we call on politicians visiting Durango to support the EPA’s vital work to protect everyone who depends on the Animas River.”