How much EPA abuse will Colorado take?

EPA: Enemy number one in Colorado

By as originally published by Watchdog Arena     

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By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena

Colorado was built on the mining industry, with riches both in history and resources cached in its subterranean treasures. The Centennial state is also one of the most iconic destinations in the United States for back country hiking, fishing, and simply beholding purple mountains majesty.

But this western state has suffered a series of wrongs by the very federal agency tasked with protecting its precious resources and scenic wonders.

The following list details the disastrous actions—accidental and intentional—by the Environmental Protection Agency which have left many Coloradoans simultaneously bewildered and furious.

  • Colorado’s coal industry, which has been an economic driver in the state for more than a century, is under attack by the EPA. Under the direction of the Obama Administration, the EPA laid out its Clean Power Plan, designed to address “global warming” by decreasing emissions of so-called greenhouse gasses, such as CO2. The plan mandates near impossible decreases in emissions from power plants, which already produce clean, cheap electricity. Power plants, as well as the mines which provide coal to the plants, face a bleak future if the EPA mandates are fully implemented.

On August 29, 2015, the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced that Colorado will be among several states mounting a legal challenge to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

  • EPA Mercury rules are another facet of its Clean Power plan, and are driving the closure of several coal-fired power plants. Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) could impact several major sectors of the Colorado Economy by placing further regulations on the production, transmission, distribution and consumption of electricity in the state. Despite Colorado’s own strict limits on mercury pollution, the EPA is seeking to impose its plan in the state.

In response to the EPA MATS and other Clean Power rules, on April 9, 2015 the Colorado State Senate passed the Colorado Electric Consumers’ Protection Act, which would force the EPA and other regulatory agencies to cooperate with the State Legislature and Public Utilities Commission when formulating rules.

Last June, the US Supreme Court heard Colorado’s challenge of the Mercury Rule, and has taken no action except to order the EPA to review its current regulations.

  • Another “pollutant” targeted by the EPA’s air quality standards is Ozone. With updated Ozone standards to be announced in October of this year, the EPA has steadily decreased allowable Ozone levels since the 1970s. Over the decades, Colorado has had great success in eliminating visible effects of Ozone emissions and the brown haze that once shrouded Denver. In spite of progress and serious efforts by the state to address Ozone haze, the EPA is updating its already rigorous standards in response to a 2013 lawsuit by environmental groups. The new Ozone standards threaten to kill small businesses, family farms, and other industries which depend on motorized vehicles for their operations.

Groups representing numerous Colorado businesses have strongly opposed the EPA Ozone rules. In August of this year, the National Association of Manufacturers produced a TV ad warning Coloradoans of the job killing potential of the EPA initiative.

  • The far-reaching Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) recently proposed by the EPA, has spurred resistance by many industries, including farming, ranching, and fracking in Western states. WOTUS exerts EPA regulatory control over virtually all surface waters in the United States, which include seasonal flows, storm waters, flood waters, ditches, puddles, and other transitory bodies of water. If the EPA successfully implements WOTUS, nearly all Americans who own property, include homeowners, could be subject to permitting fees, fines, confiscation of assets and/or jail time for unintended pollution of surface water.

Colorado hastily joined at least 21 other states in mounting a legal challenge to WOTUS. In a relatively quick response to the states’ actions, Federal Judge, Ralph Erickson, issued an injunction against the EPA. According to an August 27 Washington Times article, Judge Erickson deemed the EPA’s attempt to regulate all surface water, “inexplicable, arbitrary and devoid of a reasoned process.” Earlier this year, Colorado Congressman, Scott Tipton, sponsored and successfully passed theRegulatory Integrity Protection Act (RIPA) through the House of Representatives. RIPA is written to specifically prohibit the EPA from implementing its water rule.

  • On August 5, 2015, a mine safety crew, working under the direction of the EPA, was exploring ways to remove contaminated water from the Gold King Mine. The EPA crew failed to test the water pressure, and as a result, their activities blew out a structural plug which was holding back the water, releasing millions of gallons of highly toxic, heavy metal-contaminated water into the Animas River.
  • The toxic sludge flowed for hundreds of miles into New Mexico where it joined the San Juan River, and then into Utah, where the San Juan flows into Lake Powell. EPA officials claimed responsibility for the disaster, but will not be subject to punitive fines and jail time which the agency often imposes on private citizens found guilty of much smaller infractions. With damage to countless numbers of people, livestock and wild animals, including fish, the scope of the Animas River disaster is immeasurable.

Having several lawsuits against the EPA already on the table, Colorado Attorney General Coffman did not hesitate to consider yet another legal action against the agency. Shortly after the spill, Coffman joined Attorneys General from Utah and New Mexico to announce such a possibility, pending further investigation of the cause, and ongoing assessments of damage to Colorado’s interests.

Outcries from Colorado State and National officials ensued in the wake of the spill, including demands from Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett (CO), Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (NM), and Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch (UT), who wrote a letter to the EPA Inspector General demanding details of the causes of the mine blowout, plans to correct dangerous practices, and efforts the agency will undertake to compensate effected people for damages. 

With Colorado and other states suffering mounting wrongs in practice and policy by the EPA, questions are surfacing about the agency’s effectiveness and relevance. Established 35 years ago to standardize and enforce policies throughout the United States which would protect the environment and humans from destruction, today’s federal Environmental Protection Agency has become the thing from which people and the environment need protection.


This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. 

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