Once again, the emails gave the Environmental Protection Agency away. An EPA official was caught red-handed with full knowledge of the danger of an environmental spill at Colorado’s Gold King Mine in emails discovered by the Denver Post, but the agency downplayed any knowledge of the hazard to the public. As 3 million gallons of lead, cadmium and other chemicals polluted the Animas River, the EPA pretty well tried to downplay the severity of that, too. The revelation, as John Hinderaker of Power Line points out, comes as news breaks of the EPA issuing a draconian, ruinous punishment for the owner of a company that didn’t have a storm plan.
At the same time, the EPA was caught knowing all about the lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, according to emails, but planned to just let the public keep drinking, never mind the toxin.
So much for the agency’s mission to protect the public from heartless environmental polluters. Apparently there’s honor among thieves, and if the villain is government, the racket will be protected. Public safety is no longer the top mission — protecting the bureaucracy is.
Just as bad is the constant pattern of deception in communications — not just in Flint or at Gold River but in largely unpunished transgressions of EPA officials, who used home emails and false names to prevent public scrutiny. Remember Richard Windsor?
With so many caught-out efforts to deceive the public, it’s pretty clear that the EPA has a pattern of criminality, a cultural problem stemming from corrupt attitudes, if not corruption itself, at the top.
The emails all show cover-ups, false spin and evasion of public scrutiny, and point to one area badly in need of reform when the agency is eventually hosed out — that of continuous access to public records.
Would it be too much to require that all EPA communications from now on be revealed automatically to the public in a matter of months after they are released — and penalties be increased for anyone deceiving the public through email?