Written by Alex Newman
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made a major mess of the Animas River in Colorado and beyond, and now, some analysts are suggesting it may have even been a deliberate plot to bilk taxpayers and shut down mining in the region. Critics of the EPA are pointing to a letter by geologist Dave Taylor, published a week before the toxic spill, warning residents to protect themselves from the EPA and predicting a similar disaster in the same area purposely caused by the controversial agency. Now, almost as if on cue, the EPA is seeking more money and more power to deal with the crisis that it created. Regardless of whether the environmental disaster was caused “accidentally” through gross negligence or on purpose, which at this point is impossible to know, critics and even some lawmakers say it is time to hold the EPA accountable — not hand it a bigger budget.
Virtually every article in the establishment press about the EPA’s toxic spill has emphasized repeatedly that the discharge of millions of gallons of heavy metal-laden waste into the river was an “accident.” Apparently EPA workers were at the mine with heavy machinery to put up a cement wall to plug a leak from the abandoned mine’s tailings pond, and to put in pipes to drain and treat the toxic wastewater. Instead, they broke the barrier holding the wastewater back, releasing it into the river. How reporters know that it was an “accident” is never explained — unless the word of a bureaucrat at an agency notorious for dishonesty and lawlessness is now sufficient to establish something as fact among today’s journalists. However, as outrage grew across America — especially among those impacted — EPA boss Gina McCarthy did take responsibility for the fiasco. “I am absolutely, deeply sorry that this ever happened,” she said. The EPA claims to have misjudged the water pressure behind the plug they were messing with that was holding back the sludge, resulting in the spill. The agency is now being slapped with lawsuits.
For decades prior to the spill, the EPA had been battling locals in its efforts to designate the area as a “Superfund” site, which unlocks massive amounts of “clean-up” funding for the agency. Now, the EPA is suggesting that if only residents and their elected officials had submitted to the agency’s demands — and potentially killed off their own communities and livelihoods in the process by chasing away tourists and quashing any hopes for future mining — everything might have been fine. According to a July 30 letter to the editor by retired geologist Dave Taylor, published in The Silverton Standard newspaper, however, EPA bureaucrats were so desperate to get the “Superfund” funding that they might mess up the Animas River with toxic sludge to help “justify their existence” and force taxpayers to “feed the beast.”
“Based on my 47 years of experience as a professional geologist, it appears to me that the EPA is setting your town and the area up for a possible Superfund blitzkrieg,” wrote Taylor, who worked for decades in the mining industry and groundwater control, lambasting EPA plans to “plug” a nearby mine. “Make no mistake, within seven days, all of the 500 [gallons per minute] gpm flow will return to Cement Creek [the same creek that took the EPA-released sludge into the Animas River]. Contamination may actually increase…. The ‘grand experiment’ in my opinion will fail. And guess what [EPA bureaucrat] Mr. Hestmark will say then? Gee, ‘Plan A’ didn’t work so I guess we will have to build a treatment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows).”
“Reading between the lines, I believe that has been the EPA’s plan all along,” Taylor continued, saying that the plugging scheme for the nearby mine was actually aimed at allowing EPA officials to get their “foot in the door” and justify the construction of the sought-after EPA treatment plant. “After all, with a budget of $8.2 billion and 17,000 employees, the EPA needs new, big projects to feed the beast and justify their existence.” He urged residents to take water samples to protect themselves from contamination caused by the EPA’s operation, before concluding, “God protect us from the EPA.” A week later, the river was toxic orange thanks to the EPA’s disaster at the nearby Gold King Mine.
In a subsequent interview with Breitbart, Taylor said he did not know the EPA was planning to mess with the mine that ultimately dumped the sludge, in addition to the Red and Bonita mine that his letter was referring to. But he still issued yet another stinging rebuke to the agency. “The EPA was basically deceptive,” he said, adding that the agency had claimed it was planning to plug the Red and Bonita mine and then “see what will happen.” “The Gold King mine was already plugged [sealed] by someone else years ago.… It was incompetent and stupid for them [EPA] to go up to that existing plug and try to remove it without knowing how much water was upstream and behind it and what the hydrostatic pressure was. The plug was stable until they fooled around with it. Once they disturbed it, that’s what activated the blowout.” He also blasted the EPA for not having a back-up plan and for its “know-it-all attitude.”
The explosive letter by Taylor sparked a wide array of speculation online and in the alternative media, with more than a few outlets arguing that the EPA may have dumped the sludge on purpose. “If the Gold King mine was declared a superfund site it would essentially kill future development for the mining industry in the area,” wrote Jim Hoft at the conservative Gateway Pundit website. “The Obama EPA is vehemently opposed to mining and development.” FITSNews, meanwhile, asked: “Does anybody with more than two brain cells seriously still believe this disaster was an ‘accident?’” Infowars, ZeroHedge, Ace of Spades, and numerous other outlets have seized on the revelations to cast doubt on EPA claims as well.
Whether the environmental fiasco was deliberate on the part of the EPA or not remains unclear at this point — though after the Obama administration was exposed arming Mexican drug-cartels in Fast and Furious to advance attacks on gun rights, among other wild machinations, it is hardly unreasonable to ask questions. At least this is a real crisis for the EPA to deal with, unlike the phony hysteria surrounding alleged “man-made global warming” that now occupies much of the EPA’s time. An independent investigation into the incident might help provide some answers, and it may still come, as outraged residents continue to hammer the EPA over the spill, the subsequent lies about it, and its hostile attitude more broadly.
But it is, of course, entirely plausible that it really was all an accident caused by government negligence — after all, government generally has a long and tragic history of producing massive environmental devastation worldwide, and even in the United States. In the book The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don’t Want You to Know About — Because They Helped Cause Them, author and analyst Iain Murray describes some of the worst incidents. Plus, the nature of government bureaucracy means that failure is often rewarded with more funding and more power, while success can lead to budget cuts, downsizing, layoffs, and more. Bureaucrats know that, too.
It also would not be the first time that the EPA has been caught recklessly endangering human health to advance its anti-constitutional agenda. Just last year, in fact, the agency came under major criticism after it was exposed conducting dangerous and potentially even deadly experiments on unwitting human test subjects. The explosive findings, unveiled in an internal EPA report, showed that the EPA exposed vulnerable people to wildly high levels of possibly fatal pollutants without even warning them of the risks. Analysts at the time said the experiments were a transparent bid to advance the Obama administration’s radical agenda to rule America by executive decree and bureaucratic fiat. The Obama EPA’s recent anti-CO2 “pollution” antics, despite being brazenly unconstitutional and economically devastating, are expected to increase poverty (which leads to decreased health among victims) under the guise of stopping “global warming” (which has been on “pause” for more than two decades).
Even if the spill was indeed an accident, critics are still calling for the EPA to be held accountable for the devastation. A petition on the White House website, for example, blasts the agency as “the culprit for this horrendous act” and demands action. “How much of a fine do you think the EPA should impose on itself?” the petition reads. “A farmer in North Carolina was sentenced to six months of house arrest and fined $15K for discharging water with cow feces in it into a local river.” Lawmakers were upset, too. “If a mining operator or other private business caused the spill to occur, the EPA would be all over them,” U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), who represents an affected district, said in a statement calling for the EPA (read taxpayers) to be held accountable and pay restitution and damages. “The EPA admits fault and, as such, must be accountable and held to the same standard.”
Unless and until Congress gets serious about accountability, though, the Obama EPA is unlikely to face any serious consequences. Instead, it will bilk taxpayers for the costs and continue to usurp more unconstitutional powers while running roughshod over the rights of citizens — all but ensuring that the communities along the polluted river will not be the last innocent victims of the rogue agency. The EPA was created by disgraced President Richard Nixon using an “executive order.” It is time for lawmakers to uphold the Constitution they swore to uphold and fix Nixon’s unconstitutional mistake once and for all.