When government agencies screw up, lip service is all citizens get

The EPA, now forever synonymous with the putrid, toxic heavy-metal orange sludge mixture of arsenic, mercury and lead (among others) now flooding into the Animas (meaning: “soul” or “life”) River has reached a new low: its Orwellian bureaucratic incompetence now causes rather than prevents environmental disasters.  Of the pollution plume that is rapidly spreading across four states --  Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah—their spokesperson, Gina McCarthy, is “deeply sorry” for her agency’s 3 million gallon wastewater spill emanating from Colorado's abandoned Gold King Mine at a projected rate of 500 to 700 gallons per minute. 

One easy fix: economically suffering vendors that rent canoes and kayaks to brave, future water-fairing tourists need to be proactive by stocking hazmat suits.

Congress is already blustering about oversight hearings, but nothing will come of it: a government agency cannot be fined as a private sector entity would be.  Think of BP that was penalized $5.5 billion after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. 

I'm sure John and Jane Q. Taxpayer -- who naturally will foot the bill for the clean-up -- will take great comfort in Ms. McCarthy's hollow assurances that the EPA is “working tirelessly to respond [to the mess they created], and we've committed a full review of exactly what happened to ensure it can never happen again.”  Translation of the Washington-speak: no one will be fired and nothing will be done.

The EPA is a typical example of big government run amok.  Time to send that agency down the mucky Animas River and into history's waste bin.

Note the mealy-mouthed similarity to what Washington DC Metro’s interim general manager Jack Requa said regarding Metro's accident -- which luckily happened to empty cars (and only by the grace of God did not kill anyone) -- due to an unrepaired section of track found a month before during a July inspection: “[This circumstance] is unacceptable to me, and it should be unacceptable to everyone within the chain of command....”  Perhaps the smoke incident of the previous January that killed one passenger and injured more than 80 might have clued Mr. Requa into the fact that Metro had broader safety issues.

In both cases what is clear is that the people “in charge” have no idea what is going on.  Indeed, with institutional immunity, faceless bureaucracy and no responsibility at any level, lip-service seems to be the only “service” to which these bureaucrats excel.

David L. Hunter blogs at davidlhunter.blogspot.com