Could Colorado be liable for costs the State of New Mexico incurred in responding to the Gold King Mine wastewater release?

It could remains to be seen.

The case is State of New Mexico v. State of Colorado, case number 220147-ORG, in the Supreme Court of the United States. An outline of the seven (7) issues pending in the case can be found here.

  • What are the basics of the case?

In general, the case asks whether Colorado is responsible, at least in part, for the Gold King Mine wastewater release that happened in August of last year. Although the EPA accepted responsibility for the wastewater release, New Mexico alleges that Colorado's environmental planning and decision-making were flawed and contributed to the 3 million-gallon wastewater release.

According to The Denver Post, "New Mexico contends Colorado is partly responsible for water pollution from the Gold King and other leaking inactive mines that drain hundreds of gallons of acidic metals-laced muck every minute into waterways. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas called Colorado's conduct before the spill reckless and argued that New Mexico residents are suffering as a result."

  • Case status

In June, the State of New Mexico filed its Bill of Complaint, which can be found here in its entirety, and alleges that Colorado played a direct role in the wastewater release and is "directly responsible for the hazardous conditions that preceded the catastrophe."

Yesterday, the Office of the U.S. Solicitor General was invited to file a brief expressing the views of the United States on the lawsuit. In particular, and according to Colorado Public Radio, the views of the Department of Justice and the Obama administration on the lawsuit were sought by the Supreme Court. The Department of Justice provides that "the task of the Office of the Solicitor General is to supervise and conduct government litigation in the United States Supreme Court."

See my prior posts about the Gold King Mine wastewater release here.

Stay tuned for the developments in this case – we will continue to monitor it and provide you with updates.

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