You probably remember the disastrous spill at the Gold King mine in Colorado which was caused by EPA inspectors getting a bit too loose with their drilling equipment. The resulting outpouring of contaminated water affected people in multiple states, particularly some Native American tribes who are still pursuing legal remedies though the courts. In case you were wondering if anyone would be held accountable, the Inspector General’s office at the EPA did conduct a full investigation to see if there was any criminal culpability and it recently drew to a close. They turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office but… surprise, surprise, surprise. That office of the Justice Department has decided not to pursue it. (Government Executive)
Federal prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges to Environmental Protection Agency employees involved with the 2015 leak of wastewater at an abandoned mine, the agency’s inspector general announced this week.
The EPA’s inspector general previously launched a criminal probe in conjunction with the Justice Department after the work of EPA employees led to a blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado, which resulted in 3 million gallons of toxic water spilling into multiple rivers in the region. The IG said an EPA employee may have violated the Clean Water Act and False Statements laws. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, has declined to prosecute the employee.
To phrase it in a way that’s more commonly understood, the EPA will be receiving a strongly worded letter. Republican lawmakers are already going ballistic on the Attorney General over this, but in the end there’s probably nothing they can do when the feds exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in this fashion.