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Montana delegation asks US government to forgive county debt

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

Montana's congressional delegation is asking U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to absolve Powell County of a $3.9 million debt from an oil spill cleanup.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte said Wednesday the county can't afford to pay the bill, and the debt threatens other federal funding to the county.

The Environmental Protection Agency's 2011 cleanup at the former Milwaukee Roundhouse where trains went for repairs and maintenance cost $3.1 million.

The U.S. Coast Guard's National Pollution Funds Center billed Powell County for that amount in 2014. County officials responded then that the county is dedicated to improving the site, appreciated the help but can't afford the bill.

The Coast Guard turned the matter over to the Treasury Department as a debt now totaling $3.9 million, with interest and penalties.

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