Feds seek to dismiss New Mexico’s claims over mine spill

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Attorneys with the U.S. Justice Department are asking a federal judge to dismiss claims by New Mexico and the Navajo Nation that stem from a 2015 mine waste spill that fouled rivers in three Western states.

The Justice Department filed its motion Monday, following up on arguments first made by the Obama administration that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is protected by sovereign immunity.

The federal government contends the agency doesn’t fit the definition of a liable party.

New Mexico was first to sue over Gold King Mine, alleging that the agency had not taken full responsibility for triggering the spill of 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater in southern Colorado. The plume coursed through rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

New Mexico officials say the motion was expected.

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