Democrats and greens scramble to run interference for EPA over toxic spill
The American Thinker
August 13, 2015
Despite the EPA admitting error and taking full responsibility for the 3 million gallon toxic mine waste spill in Colorado, Democrats and environmental groups are working overtime to spin fault for the spill while claiming it’s really not that bad.
“Blaming the EPA for #AnimasRiver spill is like blaming a doctor for the disease,” Conservation Colorado said in a tweet. Colorado Democrat Rep. Joe Salazar tweeted, “Focus of #AnimasRiver contamination should be on mining companies and their mining practices, not EPA, yes?”
The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain chapter posted a link to an article titled “9 things you need to know about the Animas River spill.” The list includes “The EPA messed up, but they’re not the root cause” and “This isn’t the first time this has happened, nor is it the worst.”
Most Republicans and ordinary citizens were having none of it.
Colorado state Sen. Ellen Roberts, a Republican who represents Durango, said she didn’t appreciate the campaign. She said it muddies the waters amid the effort to determine what toxins are in the river and a plan to clean up of the spill.
“It’s clear that the EPA from the start has admitted that they were the cause of the spill, so I find this troubling,” said Ms. Roberts. “These groups — they’re trying to shift the focus. I think they have a different agenda.”
The Gold King Mine hasn’t been active since 1923, so the idea of blaming the mining companies is ludicrous. And the defense of the EPA borders on surreal:
For groups like ProgressNow-Colorado, however, the emphasis is on the political fallout from the accident. The EPA needs all the good will it can muster as it launches its hotly contested Clean Power Plan.
ProgressNow’s Amy Runyon-Harris sent out talking points Tuesday on the spill, which included, “Did the EPA ‘cause’ the Animas River mine water spill?” The answer: “Yes and no.”
“Abandoned hard-rock mines in the mountains above Silverton have been a source of water pollution for many years. The EPA was investigating ongoing water pollution from these mines,” Ms. Runyon-Harris said in her memo.
“In short, the EPA did cause the spill, but not the pollution itself,” she said.
Well, that’s splitting hairs if I ever saw one. The river would not be polluted without the EPA’s incompetence. And putting “cause” in scare quotes is interesting. The fact is, it is unequivocally true that the EPA caused the spill. They admit it. They have taken responsibility for it. Only a sophist would answer the question “Yes and no.”
And the EPA is apparently trying to pull a fast one on the Navajo nation by trying to get them to sign away their rights to future claims:
Environmental Protection Agency officials were going door to door asking Navajos, some of whom don’t speak English as their primary language, to sign a form that offers to pay damages incurred so far from the spill, but waiving the right to come back and ask for more if their costs escalate or if they discover bigger problems, Navajo President Russell Begaye told The Washington Times.
“It is underhanded. They’re just trying to protect their pocketbook,” Mr. Begaye said in a telephone interview.
The future of the Navajo and the river is clouded because of all the heavy metals in the toxic spill:
The acidic orange discharge has alarmed locals, but some environmentalists insist it isn’t as bad as it looks, even though the spill contains heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead and arsenic. Only one of 108 fish died after being placed in cages in the Animas River, and wildlife officials have said there appears to be no danger to animals drinking from the river.
At the same time, the contamination is expected to settle into the sediment, resulting in spikes in the river’s concentration of metals after storms and heavy rainfall, said David Ostrander, the EPA’s unified area command leader in Durango.
“This material that was recently discharged will be stirred up during high rain events or spring runoff and continue to move downstream over time,” Mr. Ostrander said at Tuesday’s press conference.
“The impacts from this initial response will be measured and monitored for a number of years going forward to assess any impacts from this discharge,” he said.
No wonder the EPA was trying to trick the Navajos from filing future claims against the agency.
One free market activist pointed out the towering hypocrisy of the left in trying to cover for the EPA. “When a private company makes a mistake, environmental groups scream bloody murder,” Jonathan. Lockwood of the free market group Advancing Colorado said. “But when the EPA inflicts a dangerous blow to the economy and environment, they try to deflect and dodge the reality and downplay the outrage.”