Remember when EPA Chief Gina McCarthy assured Coloradans that the feds responsible for the Animas River spill would be held accountable, and that an Interior Department review would examine the criminal, civil, and negligent nature of their actions?
Which is why the House Natural Resources Committee was surprised to hear Wednesday from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that their investigation had no intention of doing any of that.
The investigation only examined the technical aspects of what went wrong, which is where the EPA tried to share the blame, claiming that Colorado officials were on the scene to consult with the feds and agreed with the course of action that led to Spillapalooza 2015.
Overall, the hearing revealed that the feds did a crappy job of investigating themselves:
To Rep. Beyer’s (D-VA) concerns, Secretary Jewell oddly claimed that there was no criminal activity – despite repetitively testifying that the report did not examine the possible criminal or negligent nature of the actions that lead to the spill and that DOI didn’t have authority to investigate such matters. Furthermore, DOI admitted that it did not request information about the internal deliberations at EPA that led to the spill.
So, now the committee has asked for another investigation, this time from the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress.
“The Department of the Interior’s stonewalling the Committee’s repeated requests for information on the agency’s report reached a disturbing level today when Secretary Jewell effectively refused to answer Congress’ concerns about the report’s objectivity and scope. DOI must be held accountable for its obstructionist tactics regarding its involvement and lack of objectivity surrounding this disaster …” said Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican and committee chairman.
By all means, Congress must do everything in its power to hold the EPA responsible for the EPA’s pledge to be held responsible for the spill they are responsible for causing.