Wednesday, May 30, 2018

EPA assures partners will take part in lawsuit settlement talks

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2018 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge A site targeted for improvement along Monument Creek in Colorado Springs. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • A site targeted for improvement along Monument Creek in Colorado Springs.
Check out the May 30 edition of the Independent for a story about how the EPA and Department of Justice are open to settling the Clean Water Act lawsuit against the city.

This has reportedly angered other plaintiffs in the case, which include the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. They fear EPA, under President Trump appointee Scott Pruitt, will let the city off the hook for damage caused by failing to properly control stormwater over the years.

The latest chapter is a March 25 letter obtained by the Indy from the DOJ to the state Health Department and Colorado Attorney General's Office. In it, DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood says the federal government will "welcome and anticipate the full involvement of the State and intervenors in any such discussions with the City."

That contrasts with the EPA's unilateral action to reopen settlement negotiations with the city recently — without consulting other plaintiffs — after a year-long settlement discussion failed last year. The lawsuit is set for trial in August.

Wood's letter also states:
EPA and the Department remain committed to ensuring that the City takes the steps necessary to come into compliance with the law and to remedy the ongoing impacts of its past violations. The working relationship we have had with the State of Colorado, Pueblo County, and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservation [sic] District on this matter has been productive and has reinforced our shared goal of ensuring longstanding storm water issues in Colorado Springs are fully and finally resolved.
Wood goes on to say that "opening a dialogue with the City is appropriate and consistent with longstanding federal policies related to settlement discussions" and may lead to a "positive environmental outcome more quickly than if the case were litigated to final judgment."

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