EPA forks over additional funds for Gold King mine spill

On the one year anniversary of the disastrous Gold King mine spill in Colorado the EPA announced that it would be paying additional funds to people in New Mexico who continue to suffer from the fallout. Recipients of the more than one million dollars in funding will include the Native American tribes most heavily impacted, as well as state and local government agencies. (Wyoming News)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it will pay another $1.2 million to tribes, states and local governments affected by a massive mine waste spill in southwestern Colorado.

The announcement came on the anniversary of the blowout at the Gold King Mine near Silverton…

The EPA has so far made $465,000 available to New Mexico to address the spill’s aftermath. But that amount is just a fraction of the $6 million that Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn says New Mexico needs for cleanup and monitoring over a five-year period.

“They haven’t provided anywhere close to the funding that is necessary,” Flynn said.

New Mexico did not receive money in the EPA’s latest funding round.

Now that they are paying out all of this money, isn’t it time to wonder yet again why nobody has been fired at the EPA over this? Let’s look back at a few of the highlights of this story.

The mine owner originally attempted to stop the EPA from drilling into the site, citing concerns over the possibility of a catastrophic failure, and the agency responded by threatening him with massive fines if he prevented their access. After the contractor who blew out the mine was identified, the EPA awarded them millions in new contracts. Emails unearthed during the subsequent investigation revealed that the EPA coordinator in charge of the project knew that there could be “substantial amounts of water” built up in the mine, but went ahead with the drilling anyway. (The “substantial amounts” turned out to be more than three million gallons.) Finally, after nearly a year had gone by, the Justice Department launched an investigation into the Gold King spill to determine if there was criminal wrongdoing.

It’s nice that the indigenous tribes and local governments are finally getting some financial help with the ongoing monitoring and cleanup efforts, but as they already noted, this is nowhere near the amount of money they need and it’s arriving well after the full impact was felt. The entire handling of this debacle has been a series of denials and coverups which lasted until the mounting evidence was undeniable. If Gina McCarthy can’t identify someone responsible for this and hold them accountable she should step down herself. (And this is hardly the first example of her failings. McCarthy should actually have been unemployed ages ago.)

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