EPA Chief Gina McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday to answer questions about the 3 million gallon toxic spill into the Animas and San Juan Rivers.
McCarthy has admitted from the beginning that the EPA was responsible for the environmental disaster. After the disaster, the EPA responded slowly and with secrecy. McCarthy was questioned about it.
“We are holding ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold other responsible parties,” McCarthy told NPR in August.
She repeated that Wednesday.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) pressured McCarthy to respond more specifically.
“If you’re going to hold your agency to a higher standard than the private sector, you need to be aware of what your agency has done in the past,” Sullivan said, citing several cases where the EPA has gone after private businesses.
“Your agency has sent some people to jail,” Sullivan said. “Your agency has criminally charged individuals for spills less than what your agency did.”
McCarthy said she is waiting for the results of a review and if no order was violated, there will be no penalties.
Sullivan asked McCarthy what would happen if a private company “was continually violating the law the way the EPA does.”
McCarthy said the EPA didn’t violate the law.
It’s unbelievable really. The EPA has sent administrators in private industry to jail for accidental spills that were less serious than the EPA spill. The EPA has lied and violated the law, but as McCarthy said, the EPA interprets the law and takes appropriate action.
Today’s hearing. Go to 01:13.
The EPA is going to find themselves innocent. They are not as understanding when private companies make mistakes.
At a House hearing last Wednesday on the Gold King mine spill, the EPA representative strained all credulity in explaining a doctored video on their website and about the reason they were at the mine. It was all part of their clumsy cover up.
During the House committee hearing, the EPA replaced a doctored video from their website with the real one and both versions were shown, The Washington Times reported.
The doctored video did not include the voice of a worker saying, “What do we do now”, in response to the pouring out of contaminated water.
Here is the video pre-doctoring:
EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen said it was “posted by mistake”. The EPA really meant to show the “unredacted version.”
The EPA has a disclaimer on its website saying that profanity from its videos had been removed and license plates blurred, but that otherwise the agency “did not edit the videos.”
Government bureaucrats are unaccountable. They can say anything.
EPA supervisor Mathy Stanislaus said that the reason the agency was present at the mine was in response to a “cave-in”. In fact, the owner of the mine has said that the EPA contractors barricaded the mine last summer and created the disaster.
“This was a result of cave-ins and water buildup. That’s why we were there at the time,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
Todd Hennis, the owner of the mine said after the hearing, “It’s absolute baloney of the worst sort. They blocked off the flow of water out of the drain pipes and they created the huge wall of water in the Gold King by their actions last year.”
Hennis told Colorado Watchdog last month that the EPA dumped 15 tons of hazardous waste into another mine he owned in 2005 and then walled up the Gold King last summer as a means to control water runoff.
He showed the Watchdog photos that appeared to confirm his accusations.
“It shows there was no flow of water coming out,” Hennis said. “They are calling it an act of God when it was an act of government. The photos clearly show the EPA backfilled the portal to block water from coming out and they blocked the discharge pipes at the same time.”
Blocking the mine’s natural drainage triggered the catastrophe, Henning told Watchdog.
The EPA did everything imaginable wrong. They caused the spill, didn’t properly notify the local and state officials and the tribal leaders. They sent dirty water to the Navajos for their cattle and crops. While taking responsibility for the disaster, they haven’t fired anyone and they keep lying about it to the media and, more importantly, under oath to congress.