Text: H.R.4735 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (01/03/2018)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 4735 Introduced in House (IH)]

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115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 4735

To provide compensation to persons injured by the Gold King Mine spill 
 and fund certain long-term water quality monitoring programs, and for 
                            other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            January 3, 2018

  Mr. Pearce introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the 
Committees on the Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Agriculture, for 
a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for 
consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the 
                          committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To provide compensation to persons injured by the Gold King Mine spill 
 and fund certain long-term water quality monitoring programs, and for 
                            other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Gold King Mine Spill Accountability 
Act of 2018''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) On August 5, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency 
        caused a blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado that 
        released approximately 3 million gallons of heavy-metal-laced 
        mine wastewater into the Animas and San Juan Rivers.
            (2) In October of 2015, the Bureau of Reclamation issued a 
        report that detailed how the Environmental Protection Agency 
        ``incorrectly concluded'' that the water level inside the Gold 
        King mine was only partially full of wastewater and used this 
        conclusion to develop a ``plan to open the mine in a manner 
        that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led 
        directly to that failure''.
            (3) On January 13, 2017, the Environmental Protection 
        Agency concluded that the agency was not legally able to pay 
        compensation for the claims relating to the Gold King Mine 
        spill brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
            (4) On August 4, 2017, Environmental Protection Agency 
        Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency will 
        reconsider claims relating to the Gold King Mine spill.

SEC. 3. COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF GOLD KING MINE SPILL.

    (a) Federal Tort Claims.--
            (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), each injured 
        person shall be entitled to receive from the United States 
        compensation for a claim filed, or civil action brought, under 
        chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code (commonly known as 
        the ``Federal Tort Claims Act''), arising out of or relating to 
        an injury resulting from the Gold King Mine spill.
            (2) Nonapplicability of limitation.--Notwithstanding 
        section 2672 of title 28, United States Code, the Administrator 
        may provide compensation for a claim under this section in an 
        amount greater than $25,000 without prior written approval of 
        the Attorney General (or a designee), as the Administrator 
        determines to be appropriate.
    (b) Office of Gold King Mine Spill Claims.--
            (1) Establishment.--There is established within the 
        Environmental Protection Agency an Office of Gold King Mine 
        Spill Claims, in this subsection referred to as the ``Office''.
            (2) Purpose.--The Office shall receive, process, and pay 
        claims in accordance with this section.
            (3) Treatment.--The establishment of the Office by this 
        subsection shall not diminish the ability of the Administrator 
        to carry out the responsibilities of the Environmental 
        Protection Agency under any other provision of law.
            (4) Detailees.--Upon the request of the Administrator, the 
        head of any Federal department or agency may detail, on a 
        reimbursable basis, any personnel of that department or agency 
        to the Office to assist in carrying out this section.
    (c) Allowable Damages.--
            (1) Property loss.--A claim that is paid for loss of 
        property under this section may include damages resulting from 
        the Gold King Mine spill for--
                    (A) any cost resulting from lost tribal subsistence 
                from hunting, fishing, firewood gathering, timbering, 
                grazing, or agricultural activities, or from lost use 
                for traditional or ceremonial uses, conducted on land 
                or using water damaged by the Gold King Mine spill;
                    (B) any cost of reforestation or revegetation on 
                tribal or non-Federal land, to the extent that the cost 
                of reforestation or revegetation is not covered by any 
                other Federal program;
                    (C) any costs borne by any injured person to 
                determine the extent of--
                            (i) the damages to agricultural land; or
                            (ii) any other damages covered by this 
                        section;
                    (D) any costs borne by an injured person to pay for 
                water supplies or equipment to treat water during the 
                period for which a water supply of the injured person 
                was compromised by the Gold King Mine spill; and
                    (E) any other loss that the Administrator 
                determines to be appropriate for inclusion as loss of 
                property.
            (2) Business loss.--A claim that is paid for a business 
        loss under this section may include damages resulting from the 
        Gold King Mine spill for--
                    (A) damage to tangible assets or inventory;
                    (B) business interruption losses;
                    (C) overhead costs;
                    (D) employee wages for work not performed; and
                    (E) any other loss that the Administrator 
                determines to be appropriate for inclusion as a 
                business loss.
            (3) Financial loss.--A claim that is paid for a financial 
        loss under this section may include damages resulting from the 
        Gold King Mine spill for--
                    (A) an insurance deductible;
                    (B) lost wages or personal income;
                    (C) emergency staffing expenses;
                    (D) debris removal and other cleanup costs; and
                    (E) any other loss that the Administrator 
                determines to be appropriate for inclusion as a 
                financial loss.
            (4) Non-limitation.--The losses described in paragraphs (1) 
        through (3) do not limit any compensation that is otherwise 
        available under chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code.
    (d) Compensation.--
            (1) In general.--Any claim for damages compensated under 
        this section during a fiscal year shall be paid from 
        unobligated funds appropriated to the Environmental Protection 
        Agency for that fiscal year.
            (2) Rollover.--To the extent that a claim exceeds the 
        amount of unobligated funds available in that fiscal year, the 
        remainder of the claim shall be paid from unobligated funds in 
        the first subsequent fiscal year in which sufficient 
        unobligated funds are available to satisfy such remainder.
    (e) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) Injured person.--The term ``injured person'' means a 
        person who suffered injury resulting from the Gold King Mine 
        spill.
            (2) Injury.--The term ``injury'' includes any injury for 
        which compensation may be provided under chapter 171 of title 
        28, United States Code, that is caused by a negligent or 
        wrongful act or omission of a Federal officer, employee, 
        contractor, or subcontractor while acting within the scope of 
        office, employment, or contract, under circumstances in which 
        the Federal officer, employee, contractor, or subcontractor, if 
        a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance 
        with the law of the jurisdiction in which the act or omission 
        occurred.
            (3) Person.--The term ``person'' means a person who is 
        eligible to bring a claim under chapter 171 of title 28, United 
        States Code, and may include--
                    (A) an individual;
                    (B) an Indian tribe, tribal corporation, or other 
                tribal organization;
                    (C) a non-Federal entity, including a corporation, 
                business, partnership, company, association, insurer, 
                ditch company, water district, and water company;
                    (D) a State or political subdivision of a State, 
                including a county, township, city, school district, 
                and special district;
                    (E) the Animas-La Plata Operation, Maintenance, and 
                Replacement Association; or
                    (F) a legal representative of an individual or 
                entity described in any of subparagraphs (A) through 
                (E).

SEC. 4. GOLD KING MINE SPILL RESPONSE PROGRAM.

    (a) In General.--Subject to the requirements of subsection (b), the 
Administrator shall fund the implementation of the long-term monitoring 
program developed by the Long-Term Impact Review Team of the State of 
New Mexico for the water quality of the Animas and San Juan Rivers.
    (b) Requirements.--In order to be funded by the Administrator under 
subsection (a), the long-term monitoring program shall--
            (1) provide full disclosure to the public of applicable 
        water quality and sediment data;
            (2) enable clear and meaningful comparison between those 
        data and all relevant water quality standards; and
            (3) meet such other conditions as the Administrator may 
        require to administer the program.

SEC. 5. PROHIBITION OF RULE MAKING.

    (a) In General.--Except as provided under subsection (b), the 
Administrator may not finalize a rule or engage in a rule making (as 
such terms are defined in section 551 of title 5, United States Code) 
until all claims processed under section 3 have been paid in full, as 
applicable.
    (b) Exceptions.--The prohibition under subsection (a) shall not 
apply with respect to--
            (1) such rules as may be required in order to implement 
        this Act; and
            (2) any rule that the Administrator determines necessary to 
        address an imminent threat to public health or safety, or other 
        emergency.

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Administrator.--The term ``Administrator'' means the 
        Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
            (2) Gold king mine spill.--The term ``Gold King Mine 
        spill'' means the discharge on August 5, 2015, of approximately 
        3,000,000 gallons of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine 
        north of Silverton, Colorado, into Cement Creek that occurred 
        while contractors of the Environmental Protection Agency were 
        conducting an investigation of the Gold King Mine.
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