Right Hooks

EPA Engaged in Image Control After Toxic Spill

Officials at the EPA have sought to cover up and shift the blame for causing the toxic Gold King Mine spill.

Thomas Gallatin · Jun. 15, 2017

Recall the scene two summers ago, when the Environmental “Protection” Agency mistakenly breached the long-abandoned Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. The error was catastrophic, having released an estimated three million gallons of heavy metals and other toxins into the Animas River, affecting drinking water in three states and harming area wildlife. It’s hard to forget the images of the toxic spill coloring the river a putrid mustard yellow. At the time, EPA officials claimed that the spill was caused by an “inadvertently” breached mine due to a “misjudgment.” But the EPA was also quick to point out that they did not break any “standards for the level of care” taken. In other words, it was an innocent accident caused by unforeseeable conditions — just one of those things.

The Department of Justice at the time investigated the cause of the spill but declined to prosecute those EPA employees who were at fault. The trouble is the EPA has submitted conflicting reports regarding planning, decisions made, individuals involved and actions taken. Several officials outside the EPA have also shown little interest in getting to the bottom of what happened, essentially allowing the EPA to tell whatever story it wants without challenge. To put it bluntly, the agency is covering up the fact that the disaster was caused by its own gross negligence and incompetence.

And the EPA has plenty of motivation for covering up, not the least of which is seeking to avoid legal liability. The agency has a history of ruthlessly prosecuting private parties for being negligent and having violated the Clean Water Act. Now the shoe is on the other foot, as the state of New Mexico has brought a lawsuit against the EPA. The agency is also attempting to protect its carefully crafted image as the defender of the environment.

With Scott Pruitt now heading the agency, we expect this cover-up and obfuscation to be dealt with as he works to drain the EPA swamp.


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