Former Boulder Mayor Shaun McGrath has been busy since President Obama nominated him two years ago to manage EPA’s Region 8 that includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 tribal nations.
When he wasn’t overseeing work at the Gold King Mine were a spill wasn’t reported for 24 hours and the cleanup plan consisted of twiddling thumbs and declaring the pollution self-dissipated, he was fining Suncor Energy $230,400 for not having an adequate risk management plan or meeting reporting requirements.
And, when he wasn’t spinning his agency’s gross failure in triggering the mine waste spill at the Animas River into a golden opportunity to declare it a Superfund site, McGrath was forcing that dreaded program upon the Eilers area of Pueblo, where the Colorado Smelter operated more than 100 years ago.
Thanks to the Superfund designation last year, folks in that neighborhood can’t even sell their homes because banks aren’t willing to approve loans. City officials are already predicting declining property values and urban blight.
As to whether the century-old smelt site posed any real danger to human health, we have no idea because the EPA still hasn’t released the tests it conducted two years ago.
Perhaps it was this overdue testing to declare Eiler a Superfund site that backed up the EPA lab so, that they couldn’t release the full data on the Animas spill.
Before Obama sent McGrath over to the EPA, he worked in the White House for a few years liaisoning with the nation’s governors on climate change. As Boulder mayor and a two-term councilman, his major accomplishments were the city’s Climate Action Plan and carbon tax.
In fact, McGrath’s resume appears more geared towards the politics of climate change, than the scientific work of mine reclamation.
He made his views on the mining industry clear during a town hall meeting in Moffat County last year, after which coal supporters said the EPA had no intention of listening to their views.
They believed the EPA came to tell them what will be “good” for them, pointing to a 20-minute prepared PowerPoint presentation McGrath used to explain the harmful effects of coal-fired plants and how they are speeding up climate change.
We expect to learn more about McGrath’s views and questionable accomplishments in September when the House Natural Resources Committee begins hearings into his greatest disaster yet, the Animas River spill. The witness list hasn’t even been composed, but we predict McGrath’s name will be second only to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy called to explain themselves before Congress.