Writings and observations

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s massive spill of arsenic-laden contaminants into Colorado’s Animas River (literally, from the Spanish, River of Souls) a week ago has all the makings of a slow-speed softball pitched at this relentless critic of EPA’s hubris, bullying and unscientific bullshite.

The EPA has distinguished itself as a great general contractor when it comes to moving gigantic piles of dirt from one place to another – but that’s about it, at least as regards the mining cleanups it has attempted.

Too, too easy to swing at that softball. Instead, I am going to feel EPA’s pain.

Somebody there in EPA’s Durango operation screwed up. It might’ve been an engineer, a surveyor, an historian or even just the poor back-hoe operator who breached a tailings dam and set loose 3 million gallons of crud into the Animas River, which pollution has now spread to New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and the Navajo Nation.

EPA either lied about, or flat didn’t know, the spectacular dimensions of their spill, first claiming it was 1 million gallons a day after the event, then copping to 3 million days later. I expect that number to rise as the slide rules come out to calculate the true volume of the tailings pond they busted. I’m guessing that they didn’t lie, they were just slow to grasp the situation. Gee, who hasn’t been there?

It would be easy to call for the hangin’ judge here. Hoist the bastards on their own petard.

Instead, I would prefer that EPA take a lesson from this. Mining companies screw up, as do oil companies, as does anyone in the risky business of providing the resources to fuel western civilization. They most times don’t bust tailings dams for profit. Somebody just goofed. It’s human nature.

Is punishment due? Perhaps, but not on a grand scale. So, EPA, you who have been so skillful at playing the blame game and beating mining companies into bankruptcy for simple screw-ups, take a good hard look in the mirror.

EPA, I feel your pain. Perhaps now you can feel ours.

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