EPA to Face Congressional Gauntlet over Toxic Mine Spill
Despite Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy’s acceptance of “full responsibility” for the early-August spill of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into Colorado’s Animas River, members on Capitol Hill are eager to instill accountability on the agency.
EPA was investigating the Gold King Mine, near Silverton, Colorado, when pressurized, contaminated wastewater spilled into Cement Creek, an Animas River tributary that flows into waterways in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and tribal lands of the Southern Ute and Navajo Nation.
Lawmakers are expected to be critical of the agency for its response to the breach of the mine, which resulted in the release of toxic materials, as well as planning for contingency situations.
The hearings will also present an opportunity to discredit the agency at a time when it is the source disagreement between the Administration and congressional Republicans over executive actions and regulations on water and climate.
The first hearing “Holding EPA Accountable for Polluting Western Waters,” will be held by the House Committees on Science, Space and Technology on Wednesday, September 9 at 10am. Assistant Administrator Math Stanislaus with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, is scheduled to testify, along with the president of the contractor used by the EPA in the mine investigation, the mayor of Durango, Colorado, the leader of the Navajo Nation EPA, and a geochemist.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Cause, Response, and Impacts of EPA’s Gold King Mine Disaster,” on September 16 at 10:00am, with EPA Administrator McCarthy testifying. The hearing was requested by Colorado Senators Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D) and New Mexico Senators Tom Udall (D) and Martin Heinrich (D).
The House Natural Resources and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees will conduct a joint oversight hearing, “EPA’s Animas Spill,” on September 17 at 10am. EPA Administrator McCarthy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are scheduled to testify.
Posted in From the Hill