Turns out that it is very illegal, as in, criminal and civil charges illegal, when someone does not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service prior to undertaking a project that poses a threat to endangered critters. In this case, downstream fish.
But, but, but, we didn’t mean to spill all of that acid and lead and whatnot into the river, stammered EPA Chief Gina McCarthy.
That didn’t satisfy GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, and he reminded her repeatedly that the EPA had been warned for more than a year that a blowout was imminent, and therefore consultation on endangered species was required by law before work began at the mine.
So, when exactly did the EPA begin this consultation required of every business and government agency in these United States?
That’s right, more than 40 days after the spill, the EPA began the legal process to protect endangered species that would be harmed by a spill at the Gold King Mine.
Despite blistering questions from other Republicans on the joint panel, McCarthy signaled that no individuals who work for the EPA would be held criminally responsible for their negligence in the spill, because that’s how the federal government takes responsibility under this administration.
“There’s the rub,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. “Your agency is above the law.”
As an additional insult, McCarthy only agreed to show up for the hearing if she was allowed to testify first as a panel of one, and refused to sit alongside other officials called to testify from Colorado, Arizona, the Southern Utes and Navajo Nation.
Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell refused to even show up at the hearing.