Scott Pruitt came to Colorado on August 4th to visit the Gold King Mine. His companions, Senators Cory Gardner & Michael Bennet, Representative Scott Tipton, and Governor John Hickenlooper, held a town hall in Durango following their visit to the mine.
Pruitt skipped out.
There were folks outside the town hall who wanted to ask Pruitt some tough questions – and Pruitt didn’t want to face them. What kinds of questions might these folks have asked?
- Mr. Pruitt, you have stated that Superfund is a top priority for you. Yet your budget proposal would cut the Superfund program overall by 30%.
- Math has never been my strong suit. Can you please explain how a 30% budget cut will make Superfund better?
- Mr. Pruitt, last week, you announced that you would personally select 10 sites and make sure they get cleaned up. That’s great.
- What about the 1,322 other sites on the List? And the 53 “proposed” sites waiting to be Listed? And the hundreds of contaminated sites waiting in the wings – the ones that haven’t even made it to the Listing process because there hasn’t been enough money in the budget to address them?
- Mr. Pruitt, you’ve joined Senator Gardner in making a big deal over EPA’s actions in accidentally triggering the Gold King Mine spill. You’ve promised to list the site, and re-open damage claims made by downstream users (even though those damages have already been settled in court).
- Please help me again with the math. You’ve proposed to cut that portion of the Superfund program that pays for “orphan sites” like Gold King by 32%. Is there some pot of gold at the end of a rainbow will pay for all this political largesse?
- While we are on the subject of budget, Mr. Pruitt… These damage claims you are so anxious to reopen will be paid for from taxpayer funds. Meanwhile, you’ve proposed to slash the “make the polluter pay” portion of the Superfund program by 48%.
- Hmmm…guess we know where your priorities lie, don’t we?
- One final question. Mr. Pruitt, have you ever actually read the scientific analysis “your” Agency conducted after the Gold King Mine “disaster?” There was no long term damage to the watershed as a result of EPA’s actions. Gold King and its workings release toxic metals (copper, lead, and zinc) into the Animas River every week at a rate equal to the entire load from that August, 2015 blowout event.
- The real “disaster” is the steady accumulation of toxic metals in the Animas River system caused by decades of uncontrolled releases from legacy mines – a problem duplicated at hundreds of orphan mining sites all over the West. Your budget cuts will help this problem how…?
- Some of “your” Agency’s loyal employees have summarized the REAL facts about Gold King Mine and the water pollution challenges we Westerners face from legacy hard rock mining – maybe you’d like to get a little bit educated?
Oh, and BTW – you were probably smart to skip the Durango Town Hall, Mr. Pruitt. It didn’t go so well for Gardner and Tipton.