EPA Chief Doubtful Agency is Guilty of Criminal Action

Last week, EPA?Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her agency?s handling of the Gold King Mine toxic water spill in Colorado, dismissing charges that it held itself to a much lower standard than a private-sector company would have and that it may have been criminally negligent.

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) has also signed on to?theresolution?calling for the impeachment of EPA Administrator GinaMcCarthy, sponsored by Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). Brooks andthe 19 other members of the U.S. House who have signed on as cosponsorsof Gosar?s resolution believe McCarthy has knowingly misled Congressduring her tenure.

But McCarthy told a Senate hearing that she doubts the?EPA will be found guilty of any criminal action. The?agency?s actions after the mine wastewater spill in early August are currently being investigated by the Interior Department?s inspector general.

?The sequence of events when you have a spill is to keep people safe at the site, then to stop the spill as quickly as possible, and it is then to ensure the cleanup. That is exactly what?EPA?is doing,? McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, accused the?EPA?of having double standards when it comes to punishing private companies for smaller spills but claiming to not be criminally liable in this situation.
There are ?abandoned mines in Alaska and abandoned legacy wells. We have wells that are still leaking oil right now, right now,? Mr. Sullivan said. ?And if you were a private sector company in charge of a spill like that, you?d be in jail.?

McCarthy was adamant that there were no legal problems at play and that even if a private company, such as contractors the?EPA?uses at mine sites, had been in charge of an abandoned mine at the time of an accidental release of toxic wastewater, it would not face penalties unless it acted against an?EPA?order.

McCarthy?s testimony came two days after Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican, called for impeaching the?EPA?chief for lying to Congress about?EPA?rules to protect streams and wetlands ? laws he said that would lead to fewer jobs in U.S. in the long term.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy ? who is not related to Gina McCarthy ? said there were no official plans to impeach her.

The Gold King Mine wastewater spill in Colorado?s Animas River released 3 million gallons of toxic water imbued with lead, cadmium, arsenic and other minerals harmful to the river?s ecology. The?EPA?has faced backlash for mishandling the recovery process and failing to quickly alert those affected by the spill, and Congress has been looking for someone to hold accountable.

The river, which flows south into New Mexico and onto the Navajo Nation?s land, turned bright orange for a few days The Animas River is the largest tributary of the San Juan River, a key source of water for the Navajo.

Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation, said the?EPA?has created a ?culture of distrust? between the?agency?and the Native American tribe. The?EPA?did not notify the Navajo Nation of the spill until two days after it happened, he told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in a second EPA?hearing.

?I believe the reason they finally informed the Navajo Nation is because you can?t hide an accident when the rivers turn orange,? Begaye said.

This spill will wreak havoc on the Navajo way of life and create economic problems for decades, he said.
?The San Juan has always been a source of sustenance for our ranchers and farmers. It provides us with healthy organic food, drinking water for our people, feed for our livestock, herbal medicine for our remedies and has been a source of enjoyment for our children,? Mr. Begaye said. ?Today, we are afraid to use the river.?

Some information in this news update was first reported by The Washington Times.

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