One George W. Bush administration veteran thinks EPA is getting off easy and benefitting from a double standard. Dana Perino of Fox News, a former Bush press aide, wondered aloud on Twitter about the reaction if the Bush-Cheney administration had dumped mining wastes into a river.
"Every headline would scream 'Bush:Cheney poisons river, slow response.' Live network newscast from scene. But Obama is never mentioned," she tweeted.
For an agency already facing plenty of heat for its climate-change programs, the spill means only more headaches and questions from critics on and off Capitol Hill.
The spill occurred last week when, according to EPA, a team probing water releases from the mine, treating water, and assessing future cleanup accidentally caused the release while excavating loose material at the mine entrance.
McCarthy on Tuesday took time out of a speech meant to promote the agency's massive new climate-change rule to apologize for the "tragic and unfortunate incident" and said the agency is taking full responsibility and is leading the cleanup with state, local, and White House officials.
"We will undoubtedly look back on whether we did the job we could, how we could have done it faster," and work with local partners, McCarthy told reporters after a speech at the think tank Resources For the Future. "I am absolutely, deeply sorry that this ever happened, but I want to make sure that we react positively and in a way that is credible and we move this forward."
Wednesday, McCarthy will visit Durango, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico, EPA said, "to inspect response efforts relating to the release of wastewater from Gold King mine, and meet with local officials and community members."
Colorado officials have said that the water appears to be returning to normal levels and recreational activities could resume soon. The EPA said it does not anticipate negative health effects from exposure to the chemicals in the water.
According to the Denver Post, Hickenlooper praised McCarthy as "committed" to the response, but highlighted the "frustration and anger that exists down here" over the spill.
In a statement Tuesday, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said he was requesting hearings to "examine the EPA's insufficient response and to ensure that the EPA is held to the same recovery standards as the private sector.
"It's outrageous, reckless, and unacceptable that it's been seven days since the EPA release three million gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River and the federal agency still has few answers," he said.
"It is concerning that the agency charged with ensuring that the nation's waters are clean is reportedly responsible for the toxic water spill at Gold King Mine. A spill of this magnitude could be devastating for the families who live nearby and depend on the Animas River in their daily lives," said House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith in a statement.