Skip to main content

Pruitt to head the EPA: Will he care about the Animas River?

Written By | Dec 7, 2016

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2016 – Donald Trump has named Scott Pruitt, the current Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  Pruitt is an ally of the fossil fuel industry signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change.

Mr. Trump has criticized  global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord, attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal” and Pruitt, 48, is one of a number of Republican attorneys general who have publicly pushed back against the Obama regulatory agenda, according to the New York Times.

And the EPA, as a law creating agency, has created plenty of messes for America and Americans.  Most notably it’s been more than sixteen months since Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dumped millions of gallons of toxic waste into Colorado’s Animas river subsequently poisoning the drinking water of thousands of Native Americans.

All because of a lack of agency oversight and stupidity. But it does not begin there.

The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the most scandal-plagued agencies in the Obama Administration and the ruin of one of America’s most pristine rivers, a source of water for millions of Americans, including Native Americans who live along the river basin.

EPA rewards contractors responsible for Animas River spill

At the time of the Animas River Spill, the EPA was embroiled in multiple  scandals:

  • Awarding an ethics award to “Richard Windsor,” who was an unethically created e-mail alias for the agency’s former head, Lisa P. Jackson;
  • Forcing conservatives to pay for FOIA requests while waiving fees for liberal groups;
  • Questions over EPA’s lush warehouse in Landover, Maryland complete with personal recreation rooms with televisions, radios, chairs and couches, entertainment, and kitchen plus an  athletic center, cobbled together from “surplus” EPA gym equipment and decked out with a music system provided via “other agency inventory items”;
  • Leaking confidential information on farmers and cattle facilities to environmental groups.

On top of these instances, the agencies bid to create new mercury and air toxics standards was voted against, 5-4, by the Supreme Court that ruled the administration failed to adequately consider the estimated $10 billion it would cost utilities to dramatically cut power plant pollution to comply with the measure.

Add to all that, at one point, there was little question that their head, Gina McCarthy, guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, was to be impeached after she committed perjury, making several false statements at multiple congressional hearings. Last, but not least, the EPA has been an undeniable job killer via their self-imposed legislations over the past 8 years.

Bottom line?  The EPA is not exactly a force for good.

Out of all the people who were affected by the spill perhaps no one was as devastated as the Navajo Nation reservation. The Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the United States, depends on the Animas River to live.

The reservation has been desperately trying to seek justice for the EPA’s wrongdoing but those efforts have fallen on deaf ears with no protests or actions taken on behalf of those devastated by the EPA’s negligence. Not only that, the EPA has handled the situation with indigence and they refused to punish the people responsible for the environmental crisis.

Finally, after months and months of waiting, it looks like the Navajo Nation might have gotten some promising news.

From The Daily Signal:

New Mexico and Colorado are both suing the EPA, and now the Supreme Court has asked the acting solicitor general of the United States, Ian H. Gershengorn, to weigh in on the pending litigation.

This request represents one more chance for the government, and possibly the Trump administration, to hold the EPA accountable for its fiasco.

Accidents by private parties that are remarkably similar to the Animas River spill have led to criminal prosecutions in the past. Consider an example from Alaska:

[One] back-hoe operator accidentally struck an oil pipeline in Alaska in 1994, and 1,000 to 5,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Skagway River. The Environmental Protection Agency had his supervisor—who was at home and off-duty at the time of the accident—criminally prosecuted for negligent discharge under the Clean Water Act.

A district court sentenced him to six months in prison, another six months in a halfway house, another six months on supervised release, and imposed a $5,000 fine.

The article goes on:

A second back-hoe operator accidentally struck open the flooded Gold King Mine of Colorado in August 2015, and 3,000,000 gallons of yellow water laced with mercury, lead, and other toxic heavy metals spilled into the Animas River—a regional source of water for drinking and irrigation. The EPA worked to contain the spill, but it held no one accountable.The main difference, of course, is the second back-hoe operator happened to work for the EPA.

The main difference, of course, is the second back-hoe operator happened to work for the EPA.

This is clearly promising news for all the people who were negatively affected by the EPA’s incompetence.

Leftist protesters have vehemently opposed anything related to fossil fuels taking part in violent outbursts against innocent people under the guise of standing up for Native Americans, as they have done in Dakota, protecting native lands from a pipeline that would do far less damage than the Animas River spill has done.

Native Americans were significantly hurt by the Animas River spill.  This toxic water potentially put thousands of lives, and the environment from which they live on and eat from at risk.  The oil pipeline does not put a single life at risk and arguably would have been a net positive when you consider the economic benefits.

The question of why we didn’t see any liberal activists digging in and setting up camps to protest this egregious treatment of Native Americans at the Animas River is simple to answer. Clearly, there is a double standard going on here.  Native American lives seem to matter to liberal activists when fossil fuels are the bad guy, but not when the Obama Administration is the bad guy.  The Animas River spill was the result of shoddy work performed by the EPA. It’s yet another black mark on the government agencies report card so there are no protests, there are no charges, there are no changes.

And Americans suffer.  Hopefully, President-Elect Trump has added the EPA to his list of targets requiring review and honest stewardship.  The Pruitt appointment certainly suggests as much.


Andrew Mark Miller