Following allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency tampered with evidence, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation finalized a settlement with the other defendants, Kinross Gold in the lawsuit where the jurisdictions are seeking damages for pollution caused during the Gold King Mine release in 2015 leaving the claims against the EPA to still be considered.
The consent decree was filed on Friday along with an order signed by Judge William P. .Johnson approving and entering the proposed decree. Various allegations in the matter have already been resolved, including a settlement between the EPA and Utah, a settlement between Utah and some of the mining companies, and the dismissal of some claims against Kinross, a mining company.
In Friday’s decree, New Mexico and its Environment Department and the Navajo Nation agreed to resolve their Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act claims and Sunnyside Gold Corporation’s counterclaims for cost recovery. In the settlement, none of the parties admitted liability. The mining defendants agreed not to assert any claims related to the matter against these plaintiffs in the future.
The decree also noted that New Mexico and the mining defendants entered the settlement on January 7 and the Navajo Nation entered a settlement with the same parties on December 31. The settlements are final with the signing of the consent decree on Friday.
After the plaintiffs’ allegations filed in May that claimed the EPA should be sanctioned for intentionally destroying evidence, the mining defendants agreed arguing that this evidence could show that the EPA is at fault and remove some of the liability being placed on them. Specifically, the EPA was accused of not keeping track of records, including texts, from the EPA representatives at the mine at the time of the release. This issue is still ongoing.
Kinross Gold U.S.A. Inc. and Kinross Gold Corporation are represented by Holland & Hart LLP, Sunnyside Gold Corporation is represented by Crowley Fleck PLLP, The Navajo Nation is represented by Hueston Hennigan LLP, and New Mexico is represented by its attorney general.