EPA message to the little people: If you like your river, you can’t keep your river.
As President Obama spends the remainder of his presidency pardoning trangenders who disclosed vital security information, appointing fabulists to key positions, and releasing dangerous Gitmo detainees, people are beginning to mull over what we will remember most about this era.
I assert that the damage caused by the rogue bureaucracy within the Environmental Protection Agency will float to the top of legacy cesspool. So, while Democratic politicos grill Scott Pruitt, the candidate likely to head the EPA in the Trump administration, the agency has finished its misrule under Obama appropriately enough.
The EPA has pardoned itself from paying claims totaling more than $1.2 billion for economic damages from a mine waste spill the agency accidentally triggered in Colorado the summer of 2015.
The EPA said the claims could be refiled in federal court, or Congress could authorize payments.
But attorneys for the EPA and the Justice Department concluded the EPA is barred from paying the claims because of sovereign immunity, which prohibits most lawsuits against the government.
“The agency worked hard to find a way in which it could pay individuals for damages due to the incident, but unfortunately, our hands are tied,” EPA spokeswoman Nancy Grantham said.
The EPA is hiding behind the Federal Tort Claims Act, indicating that it prevents the agency from paying claims the result from “discretionary” government actions. Congress passed the law to allow government agencies to act “without the fear of paying damages in the event something went wrong while taking the action,” according to its press release.
However, many people are not buying into that reasoning. To begin with, representatives from the region impacted by the toxic wastewater release will pursue restitution.
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrats, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) issued a joint statement saying they would continue pushing for legislation to hold the EPA accountable. They also said it would be up to the courts to determine whether the EPA’s defense is legitimate.
“We are outraged at this last-ditch move by the federal government’s lawyers to go back on the EPA’s promise to the people of the state of New Mexico — and especially the Navajo Nation — that it would fully address this environmental disaster that still plagues the people of the Four Corners region,” the statement reads.
The Colorado governor will not roll over, either.
Gov. John Hickenlooper released a statement, saying the state would continue to fight for residents.
“We are disappointed in the EPA’s decision. We expected the EPA to make good on its promise to reimburse any Colorado resident or business that suffered a legitimate loss as a result of the spill,” he said in the statement. “The Attorney General has agreed to help us find ways we can make sure our residents receive just compensation.”
The Navajo Nation vows to continue its fight for compensation.
Navajo Nation officials say they are outraged the Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to pay millions of dollars in claims filed against it following the devastating Colorado Gold Mine spill.
…“The Navajo Nation call upon our Congressional leaders from the states of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona to do what is right for our people by demanding that the U.S. EPA reconsider its decision and that the U.S. EPA provide full compensation to the many Navajo people who sustained extensive losses due to the spill that was caused by the agency,” Navajo Nation speaker Lorenzo Bates said last Saturday.
I sure hope Pruitt brings up this debacle during his
grilling hearing, as I would like the Democrats on the committee to understand prevention pollution is the mission of the EPA (and not imposing global warming theology).
I would like to humbly offer this piece of advice to President-Elect Donald Trump: Direct Pruitt to go on an apology tour of the region, and personally hand out checks to the people of New Mexico and Colorado hurt by the EPA’s shenanigans. Then tweet about it. This will surely help ensure Trump’s victory next time in these two states, which went for Hillary Clinton last November.
I offer this as the perfect slogan for this area in 2020: If you like your river, you can keep your river.DONATE
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