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EPA recognizes environmental "Friend" for fighting water pollution

Release Date: 10/16/2001
Contact Information:
303 312-6954,

Release Date: 10/16/2001
Contact Information:
303 312-6314,

Release Date: 10/16/2001
Contact Information:
303 312-6780

      Denver -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will present a "Friend of EPA" award to southern Colorado residents organized as "Citizens United for Responsibility to the Environment" (C.U.R.E.). The group was persistent in pursuing alleged illegal discharges of produced water from a coalbed methane drilling project west of Trinidad.

      The group documented dozens of unpermitted discharges and filed a citizens' lawsuit in 1998 against Evergreen Operating Corporation. The company countered with a so-called SLAPP lawsuit against C.U.R.E. and its top officers or former officers. In recent years, companies have filed such Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation to discourage citizens from taking direct action. The SLAPP suit charged trespassing and libel. The libel portion was dismissed and the trespass portion settled in July, 2000.

      C.U.R.E.'s suit led to a settlement between the State and the drilling company. The settlement called on Evergreen to bring all of its discharges into compliance with State law and increase testing of its discharge water.

      To offset a proposed $173,720 State penalty, Evergreen was also to spend $347,440 to build one or more "reverse osmosis" water treatment units that are capable of treating water from the methane wells to produce drinking water that meets federal and state standards. That water was to supplement supplies available to present and future residents of nearby Widow Woman, Madrid and Long Canyons. Residents in those areas rely on inadequate wells and lack access to Trinidad's municipal water.

      Singled out for special attention were C.U.R.E. president David Groubert, former board members Leslie Beck and Mike Kircher, and former president Ed Richardson.

      The awards will be presented by EPA Assistant Regional Administrator for Enforcement Carol Rushin Saturday, October 27th at 2 p.m. in the Danielson Dry Goods Ballroom, upstairs on the east side of 135 East Main St. in Trinidad.

      C.U.R.E. was among eleven groups and three individuals EPA recognized this year for environmental protection efforts in Colorado. "These individuals embody the kind of environmental commitment and partnership EPA recognizes as crucial to protecting our land, water and air, " Jack McGraw, EPA's acting Regional Administrator, said.