Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a joint hearing with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Animas River spill, which resulted in 3 million gallons of toxic water spilling into the Animas and San Juan Rivers from Colorado and into New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the EPA’s failure to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service on its activities at the Gold King Mine prior to the August 5 disaster. Federal agencies are required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to review any discretionary action they plan to undertake to see if it may affect endangered species or their critical habitat. Federal agencies have often aggressively enforced violations of the requirement against others, seeking civil and criminal penalties.
Bishop stated, “The fact is you were anticipating this type of thing happening. The law, that you insist everyone else obey, says that you have to contact Fish and Wildlife and consult with them. The fact is you did not do it and you had over a year to accomplish that fact…A standard you make everyone else live by,you violated and you’re doing it with impunity…You violated the law. Period.”
Bishop cited documents (Task Order Statement of Work for EPA Region 8 prepared by Environmental Restoration, July 25, 2014) that show EPA was aware as early as June 2014 that a massive blowout was possible.
Please click here for more information regarding the hearing.