• Water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, Aug.... 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (The Associated Press)

  • Water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    Water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, Aug.... 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (The Associated Press)

  • A plastic container feeds additives through tubes into mine wastewater flowing into a series of sediment retention ponds, part of danger mitigation in the aftermath of the blowout at the site of the Gold King Mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    A plastic container feeds additives through tubes into mine wastewater flowing into a series of sediment retention ponds, part of danger mitigation in the aftermath of the blowout at the site of the Gold King Mine, outside Silverton, Colo., Friday, ... Aug. 14, 2015. Officials have said that federal contractors accidentally released more than 3 million gallons of wastewater laden with heavy metals last week at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. The pollution flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (The Associated Press)

Critics use gold mine spill to bludgeon EPA as agency seeks to implement new clean power rules

Industrials Associated Press

Authorities say rivers tainted by last week's massive spill from an abandoned Colorado gold mine are starting to recover, but for the Environmental Protection Agency the political fallout from the disaster could linger.

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The agency's critics are seeking to use its much-maligned handling of the spill to undercut the Obama administration's rollout of major regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the nation's power plants.

EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater as they inspected the idled Gold King mine. The agency was already a frequent target for Republicans and pro-industry groups. Members of congressional oversight committees say they are planning hearings.

The spill came just two days after Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan in an event at the White House.