River of Gold

In a monumental oops, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become the Environmental Pollution Agency.

The full impact of the three million gallon mine waste spill into Colorado’s Animas River is yet to be determined. The spill was triggered during an agency-led cleanup of an abandoned gold mine. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the spill that turned part of the Animas River in Colorado a shade of brownish yellow last week “pains me to no end” and her department takes full responsibility.

Not to worry. The EPA said the contaminants were rolling too fast to be an immediate health threat. Experts and federal environmental officials say they expect the river system to dilute the heavy metals before they pose a longer-term threat.

Meanwhile, the EPA said stretches of the rivers would be closed for drinking water and recreation.

Some experts say the best course for the EPA would be to leave the metals where they settle, in the hope that next spring’s mountain snowmelt would help dilute the contaminants further and flush them downstream. According to another report, though, the spring runoff could possibly stir up contaminants from the river bottom and make things worse.

No die-off of wildlife along the river has been detected… yet.

Federal officials say all but one of a test batch of fingerling trout deliberately exposed to the water survived over the weekend.

The EPA spill is not just dripping with irony; it’s overflowing.

After the April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama told a press conference, “In case you were wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.”

Then he added that his 11-year-old daughter Malia knocked on his door that morning and said, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”

He said about the spill, “This is what I wake up to in the morning, and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about.”

President Obama has pursued the most aggressive green policy in history. On Memorial Day, during his commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremonies, the president warned that climate change represents a national security threat.

But, while the EPA has been imposing rules governing emissions from motor vehicles and new power plants, who’s guarding the guard? Where is the EPA’s accountability for their own actions?

And where is the outrage? Why is President Obama silent? This is the same president who said he “has his boot on the neck” of BP to clean up their spill.

While the president wages war against carbon emissions, coal, oil and shale, he is singularly silent on his EPA’s catastrophe.

Instead of expressing outrage as did in the wake of previous environmental disasters, the White House chose not comment on the spill and instead directed all questions to the EPA.

Something is rotten in the State of Colorado. And it’s spreading into New Mexico, Utah, the Southern Ute tribe and Navajo Nation.

The EPA at first downplayed the spill. An official EPA statement reported in the Colorado Silverton Standard, said, “This morning (Wednesday, Aug. 5) at approximately 10:30 a.m., an EPA and State Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety team working to investigate and address contamination at the Gold King Mine in San Juan County, Colo. unexpectedly triggered a large release of mine waste water into the upper portions of Cement Creek. Initial estimates are that the release contained approximately 1M gallons of water that was held behind unconsolidated debris near an abandoned mine portal.”

Later, the EPA adjusted the estimate to three million gallons. The initial statement also said, “The primary environmental concern is the pulse of contaminated water containing sediment and metals flowing as an orange-colored discharge downstream through Cement Creek and into the Animas River.”

The statement left out what EPA toxicologist Deborah McKean later said. Initial tests showed “scary” levels of toxins in the water, including lead and arsenic that could endanger humans and wildlife.

Is the EPA friend or foe?