House Committee Members Suggest DOJ is Playing Favorites in Colorado Mine Spill Case

October 13, 2016 12:06 PM
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Three House Committee Chairmen sent a letter this week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking why the Justice Department was declining to press charges against the Environmental Protection Agency over the Gold King Mine spill in Colorado.

The letter notes that after a criminal investigation was conducted by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General which found evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the agency, the US Attorney for the District of Colorado was declining to press any charges against the EPA.

“The Department of Justice, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, has aggressively pursued the discharge of pollutants into the nation’s waters in violation of the Clean Water Act,” wrote the Committee Chairmen in their letter. “In 2013, the U.S. Attorney for this District, in bringing a case investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, prosecuted a Longmont, Colorado, business owner for illegally discharging 1,000 gallons of sewage into a ditch connected to a local reservoir. Both the individual and his company were each fined $10,000 for the violation.”

The letter went on to state:

While the Longmont incident certainly deserved prosecutorial attention, it pales in comparison to the scope of EPA’s Gold King Mine catastrophe. By not taking up the case, the Department of Justice looks like it is going easy on its colleagues in the EPA. Its lack of action on these charges give the appearance of hypocrisy, and seem to indicate that there is one set of rules for private citizens and another for the federal government.

The Committee Members asked the Justice Department to produce a briefing on the decision not to prosecute by October 26.

A copy of the letter is included below.

2016-10-12 House Committee Chairmen Letter to Loretta Lynch Re: Gold King Mine Spill

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.