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Dear Friend,

Holding the EPA Accountable 

This week, the Durango Herald reported the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told La Plata County it would not receive full reimbursement for the costs that resulted from the Gold King Mine spill, which occurred on August 5, 2015 after the EPA released millions of gallons of wastewater into the Animas River.

If the reports are accurate, it’s outrageous the EPA does not intend to fully reimburse La Plata County for the disaster it created. This is yet another example of the Washington double standard and it’s unacceptable, shameful, and will be fiercely challenged. The EPA must keep its promise to the people of Colorado and abide by the standards it expects of others. I’ll do everything I can to ensure La Plata County, San Juan County, affected tribal communities, and my constituents are fully compensated and the EPA is held wholly accountable for its negligence that’s resulted in property damage and lost economic opportunity for local communities, businesses, and families in Colorado.

U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Nomination

This week, President Obama nominated Regina Rodriguez to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. In August, I announced a Judicial Evaluation Committee tasked with making recommendations to fill the Colorado judgeship, and in November, the Committee unanimously recommended four highly qualified legal professionals, including Rodriguez. In February, I joined Senator Bennet in submitting recommendations to fill the impending vacancy to the White House. Rodriguez was one of the recommendations put forward by my Judicial Vacancy Committee.  

Regina Rodriguez is a superb litigator who serves CO well. I'm proud she was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. I enjoyed speaking with her yesterday and congratulating her on her nomination.

Examining U.S. Policy Towards China and North Korea 

Earlier this week, I questioned the Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken during a Foreign Relations hearing focused on U.S.—China Relations.

I asked Deputy Secretary Blinken about the Obama Administration’s enforcement of my North Korea sanctions legislation, as well as its plan to deter China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea and enforce international law. Watch the exchange here


Additionally, I joined my colleagues and introduced legislation to enhance American maritime capacity and leadership and increase support to our allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative Act of 2016 clarifies American policy and commitments in the region, and aligns diplomatic and military resources and activities to support greater maritime domain awareness, institutional architecture, and partner capacity building efforts.

China’s ongoing reclamation activities and militarization of the South China Sea threatens regional stability and represents a clear and fundamental challenge to the international law. We must be committed to standing with our allies in opposition to Beijing’s activities and also standing for international law and freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most strategically and commercially important waterways. The Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative Act codifies United States policy that our military will routinely enforce our freedom of navigation rights, we will stand up for international law, and we will provide our partners the resources and training they need to protect their maritime domains. This legislation is a significant step toward protecting U.S. economic, diplomatic, and military interests in the region, and I urge my colleagues to support it.  

Fighting for Local Economies in Impoverished Communities

I joined Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in introducing the Investing in Opportunity Act, a bipartisan bill proposing a new solution to encourage economic growth and job creation in economically distressed communities.

Currently, more than 50 million Americans nationwide live in an economically distressed communities. With American investors currently holding trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains, the Investing in Opportunity Act provides an innovative framework for reinvesting those dollars into communities that need it most.

As a fifth generation Coloradan who grew up on the Eastern Plains, I know how important it is to attract growth to local communities, and particularly rural communities, in Colorado and throughout the country. The Investing in Opportunity Act is an innovative way to encourage investment, incite growth, and extend opportunities to communities that are struggling. I encourage my colleagues to join us in supporting this commonsense legislation that’s a stepping stone to restoring faith in the American Dream for some people who feel that it may be out of reach for them. 

Learn more about this legislation here

Meeting with Coloradans

La Plata County Commissioner Lachelt stopped by my office this week during her visit to Washington. I always enjoy meeting with County Commissioners so we can work together on behalf of our constituents.


A few days ago, I had a chance to meet with Grayson and Simon, two students from Horizon Middle School in Aurora, CO. Recently, these outstanding students and their classmates won the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow Grand Prize for their work designing and building a personal prosthetic for a local Colorado veteran. I am so proud of their work to help a Colorado veteran, and their motivation and determination serve as an example to students all across Colorado and our country.


Thank you for taking the time to read my weekly update. If I can be of any assistance to you, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-5941.



Cory Gardner

United States Senator