Trump Admin to hold EPA accountable for massive toxic river spill

Republicans and Democrats have criticized the agency’s decision to ignore victims associated with the Gold King Mine spill, which released 3 million gallons of dangerous metals like lead, cadmium and arsenic into the Animas River.

Trump wants to make EPA pay claims on mine spill

Chris White

Daily Caller News Foundation

Citizens of the Rocky Mountain state are relying on the incoming Trump administration to require that the EPA pay damages in the wake of a massive agency-caused toxic water spill in Colorado.

Republicans and Democrats have criticized the agency’s decision to ignore victims associated with the Gold King Mine spill, which released 3 million gallons of dangerous metals like lead, cadmium and arsenic into the Animas River.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and his Democratic colleague Michael Bennett blasted the Obama administration Thursday for its refusal to help the spill victims.

“I applaud Attorney General Pruitt’s commitment to review the EPA’s decision to not process FTCA claims related to the Gold King Mine spill,” Gardner said Thursday in a statement, referring to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), a nearly 70-year-old law the EPA suggested gives them sovereign immunity from paying $1.2 billion in damages.

Bennett, meanwhile, chided the EPA for skirting its responsibilities.

“The record is clear that the Environmental Protection Agency was responsible for the spill. It is extremely disappointing that the EPA has categorically rejected every single claim filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act,” he said in a statement. “The agency has broken its promise to make our communities whole in the days after the spill.”

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, a tribe whose water supply was affected by spill, said he’s hoping Congress and the Trump administration will force the EPA to take responsibility.

“There is no reason our families on the front line of this spill should have to tighten their belts while the federal agencies responsible proceed along unaffected by their own actions,” Begaye said Thursday.

He added: “We plan to work with this Congress and the next administration to bring justice and accountability for our Navajo people.”

The agency’s decision came after the Department of Justice October decision not to charge the EPA employee involved in causing the spill. EPA’s Inspector General (IG) launched an investigation into whether the employee violated laws regulating the country’s waterways and made false statements about the spill. The IG did not disclose the employee’s name.

Free Range Report

About the author


  1. Let’s assume that we get the EPA to take responsibility for the spill. Let’s assume they pay for the damage.

    Who actually pays?!? It’ll be the innocent taxpayer (and his great-great-grandchildren). None of the bureaucrats will pay. Most of the guilty will get promotions, and the rest will get medals.

    The guilty people need to pay from their own pockets, and go to jail, at least lose their jobs, with not retirement option.

    1. Better our EPA taxpayer dollars be spent to help people damaged by the agency than given to support boondoggles like Solyndra and climate change mitigation projects.

    2. Take the settlement from their existing budget. Take it out of the department responsible in the form of cuts to travel, personnel, training, etc. Make the EPA feel the pain caused by their actions. While it’s true that it would still be taxpayer money paying the settlements, it doesn’t automatically mean we have to appropriate additional money.

      1. Cut travel, bonuses, conferences, and the like – definitely. Cut their training budget – maybe. I mean, after all, it does look like there is a serious need for some training in this organization

      2. Pretty upset that the EPA will prosecute citizens for making a fire water pond on their own private property and jail them but not be held accountable for their own gross negligence.

    3. Have it come directly from their massive budget. That way large layoffs will come along with the lesson at the EPA

    4. It may be the tax payer that helps to clean up the area that the EPA allowed to get this way evidently knowingly. But the 70 year old law needs to change. President Trump is just the man to get this taken care of too. He just needs time to get it all done! Who ever is involved needs to take responsibility, or be made to do it and face a worse consequence. The law should be changed if the parties involved don’t step up, double the punishment or something!

  2. No additional funding to the EPA to pay for this. Have the EPA pay out of its existing budget directed to water related issues. That would prevent them from spending it trying to create new wetlands protection on property previously not designated as wetlands.

  3. You will never hold them personally financially accountable. However, the people in charge should be fired, and never rehired by the federal or state government. The reparation funds should be paid from the EPA’s budget, and future budgets, if that requires more layoffs, so be it. Government agencies live and die by yearly allocations, if those are reduced because of poor management, and in this case gross negligence, the culture within those agencies will insist on accountability. I am sure many federal workers are diligent and hard working, however, like any enterprise some certainly are not. This will put pressure on the bad apples.

    1. But you advocate hurting ALL employees of the EPA. The ones who’ll be huet the most had absolutely nothing to do with the debacle.

  4. Make the EPA subject to the same consequences as everyone else. Require them to pay the same fines, and face the same criminal charges. Take the money from their operating budget. Use the money to pay civil claims. Don’t give the EPA any money to offset their losses. Jail those responsible.

  5. Take the money out of the EPA budget and fire those who caused the spill and worked to protect their positions within the agency. Had this been a private company the EPA would have been all over this company with huge fines. Just because it is a government agency does not excuse it from what happened nor does it excuse them for the damage done. When a government branch, funded by the tax payer, does not take responsibility for damage done by those who are employed and tasked with “protecting” the environment then why have the agency?

    1. Yes, just what I was going to say. If the EPA needs to be downsized in order to be able to afford to pay the damages, well, actions have consequences.

      1. And the consequences of forcing the EPA to downsize will be felt by everyone the EPA protects.

        1. They have been over zealous in their attempt to bully some and then they are very negligent with their own actions. Those involved need to be fined and held accoutable for their actions the same as a private citizen would be. They need to face the same prosecution.

    2. Yea, verily.

      However, there are pragmatic concerns: it’ll never happen like that. Bureaucracies are immune from retribution, and bureaucrat only slightly less so.

  6. Another great reason to disband the EPA, pay for the damages caused in this spill, and for that agency to never destroy anything else.

    1. This was one incident. How many incidents has the EPA had in its 46 years of existence? How many oil spills have there been in the same amount of time? Should the oil industry be shut down so it can never destroy anything else?

      The EPA does far more good than harm.

  7. One more related point: For all the spin from the media that the EPA was merely innocently trying to clean up this mine and *oopsy* let loose more water than they wanted, their own planning documents say something entirely different (2nd paragraph here )

    “… EPA also plans to remove the blockage and reconstruct the portal at the Gold King Mine in order to best observe possible changes in discharge caused by the installation of Red and Bonita Mine bulkhead.”

    These clowns had some wacko idea that they could “monitor” another mine hundreds of feet downslope, in an overall decade effort to stuff mine entrances full of concrete, which only caused the unstoppable natural multi-century drainage to leak out elsewhere. EPA efforts have been a laughingstock in that area this entire time.

    All funding of those efforts, including the designation of it last fall as a SuperFund site, should be immediately cut and that earmarked cash should be diverted to pay all the damages.

  8. It is not about hurting the Government, it is about restoring the citizens that have been misplaced, displaced and harmed. We spend millions paying for illegal aliens Crap lets do something for the people that BELONG here. It sure wasn’t their fault. The Ex president made all this SH&T happen, take it from his retirement.

  9. I’m thinking back to the last BPO oil spill. Obama was at the threshold of the company within hours demanding billions in reparations. Lawsuits were filed in the government was leading the charge against a Private Industry for an accidental oil spill in the ocean,that has all but vanished eith no long term impact. Now when the tables are turned and the EPA is the cause of an environmental disaster that has had huge consequences on actual real life people, and their water source, no one wants to be accountable? Screw the EPA, let them bleed the billions out of their own budget. It would be the only money they’ve spent righteously.

    1. This post is utter nonsense. Shame on you for trying to absolve BP of its responsibility for the largest spill in American history. It’s an out and out lie to pretend the effects of the spill aren’t lingering. A simple internet search will prove this wrong.

  10. Sure the EPA caused the spill, but don’t forget how it got there to begin with.

    Exhausted mining claims are loaded with toxic waste that often sit at or near the headwaters of our rivers. Industry came in during times of loose environmental laws, left a huge mess then passed the responsibility of the agencies and the taxpayers to clean it up.

  11. Who created this toxic sludge in the first place? This should have never been allowed. The company that create it should have been held responsible for the clean up.

  12. The EPA spent more money on PR and legal maneuvering then remediation. Gina McCarthy never came to Gold King Mine. She went to Durango, Farmington and then Japan to get an award for her work. That is very telling.

  13. They could lay off 50% of the EPA bureaucrats to pay for it. I think Trump just suggested doing so. I’d rather my taxpayer money go to help victims rather than make new stupid rules

Comments are closed.