Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt marked the two-year anniversary of the Gold King Mine disaster in Colorado on Friday by pointing out how the Obama administration erred in causing the massive 3 million gallons toxic spill.
"We want to make sure things are done right," Pruitt told local news ahead of touring the mine site. "If anyone else would have done what the EPA had done under Obama, with respect to this spill, they would have likely been put in jail."
The Aug. 5, 2015, mine disaster spilled 3 million gallons of heavy-metal-laced sludge into Animas River tributaries that flowed through Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The spill was blamed on an EPA contractor who did not take the appropriate safety steps before opening an abandoned gold mine that had been sealed for years.
Republican lawmakers had called for a senior EPA official from the Obama administration to be held responsible for the spill and that the agency be held to account. Tribal groups and the states have sought damages from the EPA, and the issue has gone through litigation.
The "event happened and the Obama administration did not show up," Pruitt said. "Neither the president nor the vice president came to this site after it occurred. And Coloradans have said that they have felt left out."
Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper also will be touring the site Friday with EPA officials and plans to meet with Pruitt afterward. Sens. Cory Gardner, a Republican, Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton also will tour the site in Silverton.
The lawmakers and the governor "will hold a town hall following their visit with the Environmental Protection Agency and tour of the Gold King Mine," according to Gardner's office. "They, along with representatives from the EPA, will provide an update of their meeting and take questions from attendees."