The Environmental Protection Agency missed a congressional deadline to turn over documents related to its spill of toxic sludge into a southwest Colorado River.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Aug. 10 requesting documents and materials relating to the work that caused the Aug. 5 spill as well as information on “whether the polluted water poses health risks to humans or animals.”
Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sought documents on the chemicals in the mine waste and information on the waste water being treated in holding ponds at the mine site.
He asked for the documents no later than yesterday. Some were released to the entire public by the EPA, but the majority of what they requested has not been released or turned over, the committee said.
“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee’s reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill,” Smith said today. “These documents are essential to the Committee’s ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on September 9th. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA.”
Smith added that “even in the face of self-imposed environmental disaster, this administration continues to prioritize its extreme agenda over the interests and well-being of Americans.”
“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is currently crusading on climate change action in Japan while President Obama, who has yet to visit the areas affected by the spill, is touring the U.S. to tout EPA’s latest regulation that will do little to impact climate change and will only further burden Americans with higher electric bills,” the chairman said. “It is no wonder the majority of Americans feel Washington no longer works for them.”
McCarthy has been called to testify before the committee Sept. 9.
Other panels that will undoubtedly seek the EPA administrator’s testimony include the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The Sierra Club hasn’t said a peep about the spill since its initial reaction in which the environmental group blamed miners.
“The Animas River was sadly already contaminated due to the legacy of toxic mining practices. The company that owns this mine has apparently allowed dangerous conditions to fester for years, and the mishandling of clean-up efforts by the EPA have only made a bad situation much worse,” the environmental group said in a statement Aug. 11.
“As we continue to learn what exactly happened, it’s time that the mine owners be held accountable for creating this toxic mess and we urge the EPA to act quickly to take all the steps necessary to ensure a tragedy like this does not happen again.”