Bishop, Chaffetz Slam Federal Response to Animas River Spill

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz criticize EPA Chief Gina McCarthy and Interior Sec. Sally Jewell for their “shameful” efforts at damage control in the wake of the Gold King Mine disaster.

Reports The Daily Caller:

Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop tore into EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for refusing to sit at the same table as state and tribal officials during a congressional hearing on the massive mining spill caused by agency workers.

“I understand Administrator McCarthy agreed to come only if she appeared first and on her own panel — refusing to sit alongside representatives of states and tribes that traveled across the country to discuss the disaster her agency unleashed in their backyard,” Bishop said during Wednesday’s hearing.

McCarthy appeared on her own panel that came before a second panel that included officials from the Navajo and Ute tribes, whose lands were impacted by the EPA-caused mine spill, along with state officials from Colorado and New Mexico.

State and tribal officials have been furious with the federal government’s response to the spill. Critics say the EPA didn’t notify states and tribes quickly enough and was reluctant to share informationwith those affected by the spill.

“Your first call was to the media, not the Navajo Nation,” Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz told McCarthy in a heated exchange.

Chaffetz also slammed McCarthy for handing out claims forms the Navajo say would have stripped tribal members of their rights to being compensated for any future damages from the spill. On top of that, Navajo officials have claimed the EPA gave them tainted water to use on their crops and livestock.