EPA’s Gold King Mine investigation remains SECRET two years after agency blamed for environmental disaster

There is so much difference already between the Trump and Obama administrations, especially concerning transparency, but there remain some problems with federal agencies that the current occupant of the White House obviously has not yet had the time to rectify.

I’m happy with President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency — and I love the fact the Pruitt isn’t a card-carrying member of the Church of Global Warming. But I have issues with the fact that two years after the agency botched a clean-up operation at the Gold King Mine in Colorado, the probe into that incident remains hidden from the public.

As reported by The Daily Caller, federal officials won’t release details of an ongoing criminal probe into the EPA-caused disaster. The site noted further:

The EPA’s Inspector General (IG) provided the Department of Justice evidence that an employee involved in the August 2015 Gold King Mine disaster violated the Clean Water Act and made false statements. The Justice Department declined to prosecute him, the IG announced in October 2016.

The watchdog wrote a report on its completed investigation but is now keeping it secret.

“The material you requested … are part of one or more open law enforcement files,” the EPA IG’s associate counsel, Susan Barvenik, told The DC in correspondence. As such, producing the records “could reasonably be expected to interfere with ongoing enforcement proceedings.”

EPA Watch reported in June that a crew working for the Environmental Protection Agency unexplainably removed the rock and rubble “plug” holding back millions of gallons of toxic water at the long-abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado. That led to a massive three million-plus gallon spill of acid mine drainage and, the EPA says, 550 tons of metals, into the Animas River.

As The DC noted further, however, an agency official provided a conflicting statement, furnished by the agency’s own inspector general’s office.

“Investigative activity has ended, but the investigation is still administratively open,” IG spokeswoman Tia Elbaum said. “We haven’t closed the investigation as further actions could still be pursued. We do not have plans to release the records at this time.”

She noted further that the IG did not plan to close its investigation until the agency decides whether to pursue action against the EPA employee referred. It will be two years on Saturday since the disaster occurred.

That means that the agency still has not assigned responsibility for the catastrophe or taken the appropriate administrative steps against anyone; so, no one has been held to account, which is par for the course when it comes to the manner in which the federal bureaucracy protects itself. (Related: The EPA admits to Gold King Mine disaster but also refuses to pay claims to Native Americans.)

As Robert Gordon, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation wrote in June, the EPA has been hiding the fact that the crew assigned to the project was always there to completely remove the plug. That, despite the fact that agency officials said initially that they were awaiting experts to help address the plug and that the toxic chemicals were accidentally released.

“The EPA began removing the plug as it had planned, even though it anticipated acid mine drainage would flow out and that the drainage could be pressurized,” he wrote, comparing the crew’s actions to poking a balloon with a pin just to allow a little bit of air to escape.

“At best, the EPA’s actions were incredibly reckless,” he wrote.

The DC reported that the House Committee on Natural Resources released a complete report on the disaster seven months after it occurred, providing ample details into the agency’s mistakes as well as other evidence of malfeasance.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.

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