A disastrous blowout at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo., released tons of toxic metals and acidic waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers in 2015, resulting in an $11 million settlement with the state of New Mexico.

An open-pit mining operation contaminated Questa’s surface and groundwater badly enough to put it on a federal Superfund list, leading to a recent $2.3 million payout to cover water improvements.

And last week, the state Environment Department sued the U.S. Department of Energy for what it contends is the agency’s slow and deficient effort to clean up nuclear waste generated during the Cold War and the Manhattan Project.

These cases are examples of New Mexico strengthening its environmental oversight — one of the promises Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made upon taking office.

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