Utah Legislators: Colorado Mine Disaster May Not Have Been an Accident

Newsweek interviews Sen. Margaret Dayton and Rep. Mike Noel about their theory that the EPA orchestrated the Animas River toxic spill to help environmentalists kill America’s mining industry.

Reports Zoë Schlanger:

Noel, meanwhile, who sits on the the Utah legislature’s Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, says [he] would “absolutely” abolish the EPA if given a chance, and is sure there is a larger anti-mining agenda at work.

“The EPA is on the top of the list for government departments that we do not support and don’t get along with. They’ve used their influence and regulations to stop a large amount of projects in rural Utah. We have very very little respect for the EPA, especially under [EPA Commissioner] Gina McCarthy. She comes from a very, very radical background,” he said on the phone Tuesday. Noel represents the two counties in Utah, San Juan County and Kane County, affected by the spill. “I see this, quote, ‘accident,’ as—I’m not sure if they consciously did it, I just said I want to see an investigation. Why did they breach the barrier? It sure seems to me that when you’re dealing with those chemicals from gold mining you’d be very very careful. I don’t put anything past the EPA. I’ve seen the way they use their regulating powers to shut down projects, harm mining, harm farmers.”

Noel added that he thinks the EPA’s goal is to ruin the mining industry.

“I think everything the EPA does is an attempt to smear mining. Especially under Gina McCarthy. I think everything has to do with that. There is definitely a total bias against mining,” Noel said, adding that the U.S. should be producing more of its own coal and minerals, not less. “We’re 100 percent dependent on Red China. These are strategic minerals we need in our supply. We’re shutting down our coal mines, they’re building one a month. It’s kind of an upside-down world for me.”

“I’m not crazy. I’m skeptical of the government,” he said.

Dayton, who also sits on the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee, wrote in an email Monday that she is concerned that the EPA “may have had an accidental/on-purpose spill so as to qualify for Superfund cleanup funds.”

“I am not at liberty to share all the information being gathered,” she wrote, but linked to a letter to the editor published in the Silverton Standard & the Miner,a local newspaper, written a week before the spill by a retired geologist, that appears to predict that the EPA’s work at the Gold King Mine could wind up releasing toxic waste water. In addition, the letter (currently being shared on a number of conservative and Tea Party websites) alleged that if it did, it would be “EPA’s plan all along”—a “Superfund blitzkrieg” to justify the agency’s “hidden agenda” for the construction of a water-treatment plant.