New Mexico not backing down from Gold King mine spill suit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on New Mexico's lawsuit over the Gold King Mine spill (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he's not backing down from the legal battle over a mine waste spill that fouled rivers in three Western states.

Attorneys with the U.S. Justice Department are asking that claims made by the state and the Navajo Nation in the wake of the 2015 spill in southern Colorado be dismissed.

Balderas said Tuesday he will continue to seek justice for the region's culturally unique population and the damaged economy.

In a lawsuit filed last year, New Mexico said the environmental effects of the spill were far worse than claimed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The state is seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.

The owners of two mines also are named as defendants.

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12:41 p.m.

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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