Gold King Mine owner Todd Hennis is calling the testimony of EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus at Wednesday’s House Science Committee hearing “absolute baloney of the worst kind.”
In his testimony, EPA’s Stanislaus told the committee “[t]his [blowout] was a result of cave-ins and water build up. That’s why we were there at the time.”
But Hennis is pinning the blame on the EPA for the August 5 blowout of 3 million gallons of toxic waste from the Gold King Mine he owns near Silverton, Colorado. That disaster turned the Animas River orange for days.
“They [the EPA] blocked off the flow of water out of the drain pipes and they created the huge wall of water in the Gold King by their actions last year,” Hennis told Watchdog.org.
“They are calling it [the blowout] an act of God when it was an act of government,” Hennis added.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Hennis goes even further in his criticisms of the EPA.
“He [Stanislaus] is repeating the EPA party line, which is the Gold King portal was collapsed since 1995, this was a natural blockage, or even ‘an ice blockage’ (which is the worst fairy tale that EPA people have mentioned),” Hennis tells Breitbart News.
“EPA is trying to spin this away from the fact their backfilling operation caused the blowout,” Hennis adds.
“He was saying what he was told to say, without being at the site,” Hennis notes, which explains why he called the testimony offered by Stanislaus “baloney.”
“Baloney [saying what he was told to say] versus an outright lie if he did know the facts,” Hennis concludes.
Stanislaus has been the EPA’s point man in handling the press about the agency’s role in the August 5 toxic spill blowout. But this appearance matched a wooden performance in an earlier media call, when he appeared to be reading from a prepared script and was unable to answer basic questions about the spill site. Stanislaus may have little role in dealing with the August 5 spill beyond serving as the public face of the EPA. Other agency officials who have more specific knowledge about the spill have been kept out of the reach of the press.
Democrat members of the committee repeated Stanislaus’s “act of God” excuse to justify EPA’s conduct.
“Blaming EPA for the spill is like blaming firefighters for the forest fire,” Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA) said.
But Dave Taylor, the retired geologist who predicted the EPA project that caused the spill would fail, has little patience for the lame excuses being offered by EPA officials and their Democrat apologists.
“More accurately,” Taylor tells Breitbart News, “the analogy should be that the EPA poured gas on the fire, by showing up unequipped and unprepared with no back-up plan.”
Taylor, who watched Wednesday’s hearings on C-SPAN, adds that “one of the most significant moments was the ‘big ball/little ball’ analogy made by Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO).”
“The ‘little ball’ represented the one-day, 3 million gallon spill [that took place on August 5] and the ‘big ball’ represented 300 million gallons contaminating the Animas River over a year’s time.”
Perlmutter used the analogy, Taylor says, to try to minimize the impact of the August 5 spill.
“The fallacy in this analogy is that the EPA’s release was much more concentrated and hazardous than the long-term disseminated release,” Taylor says.
“I would compare it to taking a whole bottle of aspirin at one time compared to taking a single aspirin a day over a year’s time,” Taylor adds, noting that a one aspirin a day could have a good impact on a person’s health.
Taylor also wanted to know why the Mayor of Silverton, Colorado, the town just 7 miles from the spill, was not invited to the hearings, while the Mayor of Durango, Colorado, 50 miles away from the spill, was invited.
“The Mayor of Durango obviously defends the EPA and wants big Superfund money,” Taylor tells Breitbart News.
“Bottom line, had the EPA drilled a test hole and connected with the water in the Gold King Mine and assessed the water pressure in the mine, the whole thing could have been prevented.”
“Drilling a hole was absolutely feasible,” Taylor concludes, “but due to their [the EPA’s] lack of mining experience, they took a short cut.”
The consequence of that short cut, Taylor says, was the massive 3 million gallon toxic waste blowout that turned the Animas River orange.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy failed to show up at the Wednesday hearing on Wednesday. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) blasted her for that. “Perhaps she doesn’t have good answers,” he said of McCarthy.
The answers that her stand-in, Stanislaus, offered to the committee were not very good either, at least according to the testimony of Donald Benn, executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Gold King Mine owner Todd Hennis.
As the Associated Press reported:
From the beginning, EPA “has sought to quiet our legitimate concerns, and has made repeated missteps in their response efforts relating to the incident triggered by their own actions,” Benn said. EPA officials appear more concerned about mitigating losses and minimizing damage than in finding out how the accident occurred, Benn said, calling the EPA’s investigation of the incident inherently flawed.
“No other environmental bad actor would be given this same amount of leeway to investigate itself and determine to what extent it will be held accountable,” Benn said.
Committee Chairman Smith blistered Stanislaus and the EPA in his comments, calling the agency’s conduct “inexcusable.”