From the Associated Press (Dan Elliot):
Utah’s $1.9 billion claim against the Environmental Protection Agency for a multi-state mine waste spill says Utah’s water, soil and wildlife were damaged, but it offers no specifics.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office provided a copy of the claim to The Associated Press Wednesday…
Utah’s claim from the spill is believed to be the largest of 144 filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek government compensation without a lawsuit. The claims seek payment for lost crops, livestock, wages and income and other damages.
The Navajo Nation filed a claim for $162 million and the state of New Mexico for $130 million. Both have also filed lawsuits against the federal government.
Utah also filed suit, but it named mine owners and EPA contractors as defendants, not the government.
The EPA said January it was prevented by law from paying any of the damages under the Tort Claims Act, angering many. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who took over after President Donald Trump assumed office, has said the agency will reconsider at least some of the claims.
Utah’s claim cites damage to the San Juan River and Lake Powell, a vast reservoir on the Colorado River which the San Juan feeds into. It also cites damage to other waterways, underground water, soil, sediment, wildlife and other, unspecified natural resources.
It does not say how state officials arrived at the $1.9 billion figure.
Dan Burton, a spokesman for Attorney General Sean Reyes, said the state’s lawyers came up with the number after consulting with Utah Department of Environmental Quality scientists and others.