The double-standards that run rampant on the left are revealing themselves yet again; this time around an issue that liberals love to pretend they have a monopoly on: the environment. This latest bout of hypocrisy surrounds the fact that just weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released approximately three million gallons of acidic waste into a Colorado river, underestimated the environmental and economic impact of their mistake, and even failed to alert affected state government officials and the public about the dangerous situation a timely fashion.
But you probably haven‚Äôt seen photographs of this now-hazardous river plastered across the front pages of newspapers ad nauseam the way you did the BP gulf coast oil spill. To the extent that the polluted Animas River has been on TV, it‚Äôs as a side note; in contrast for example, to the airtime the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska received. Yes, those spills were bigger scale-wise. That doesn‚Äôt change the fact however, that the coverage and accountability disparity when it comes to corporate versus government pollution sheds an unflattering light on the left and their sympathetic media allies. Still, the responsibility and competency problems are much bigger than just that.
As Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico (which was one of the states impacted by the EPA‚Äôs recent negligence) said, ‚ÄúThis was caused by the EPA, and the EPA should demand the same of itself as it would of a private business responsible for such a spill, particularly when it comes to making information available to the public and state and local officials.‚ÄĚ As critics and impacted groups have noted, the EPA‚Äôs disastrous post-incident response has been nothing short of outrageous, if not outright dangerous.
‚ÄúEPA compounded its gross negligence by failing to inform city and state officials or residents and recreationists on the river for a full 24 hours after the event,‚ÄĚ reported The American Spectator‚Äôs H. Sterling Burnett. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs 24 hours farmers were irrigating with tainted water, cities were pumping dirty water for municipal uses, and kayakers and anglers were literally standing or floating in the toxic brew. Some mayors of cities first learned of the danger from news reports, not the EPA itself.‚ÄĚ
Despite the harm caused to affected persons, most Americans are at best, tangentially aware of the Animas River and the toxins that have turned a previously usable body of water into a bright orange disaster. And as far as the environmentalist left is concerned, that ignorance of this serious situation is by design. In fact, the President of the United States himself wants you to ignore the EPA‚Äôs egregious mistake, for which interestingly enough, they aren‚Äôt being held accountable by his administration. But it‚Äôs all for the sake of ‚Äúprogress,‚ÄĚ of course.
The most recent emails sent out by Obama‚Äôs grassroots outfit provide a strong clue as to the reasoning behind White House officials‚Äô tight lips. Maligning anyone who would dare question the wisdom of giving the unaccountable and apparently incompetent EPA even more power in the wake of this incident as ‚Äúscience deniers,‚ÄĚ Obama‚Äôs Organizing For Action sent out a characteristically condescending call-to-action mere days after the EPA tainted a beautiful river with several million gallons of toxic sludge:
You don’t have to be a policy expert to make a difference on climate change. All it takes is a willingness to fight back — especially against deniers that willfully ignore the science.
Now that the Clean Power Plan is finalized, it’s the states’ turn to take action, and state leaders need your support to keep the momentum going.
States all over the country are already acting to meet their clean power goals. Nevada is helping lead the nationwide solar boom — between 2013 and 2014, the number of solar jobs in Nevada grew by 146 percent. Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota each get at least a fifth of their power from clean wind energy. New York is part of a nine-state partnership that has created jobs and boosted the regional economy, all while cutting consumers’ utility bills by hundreds of millions of dollars and cutting carbon pollution by 40 percent.
That kind of leadership is needed in the weeks to come, during the hard push to meet the EPA’s goals — and OFA volunteers are stepping up in support.
Say you’ll stand with strong leadership on climate change:
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Organizing for Action‚ÄĚ
Well. That explains the sound of chirping crickets emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House is too busy trying to ram its latest EPA-led economically damaging centralized scheme down our throats to bother pursuing what should be government‚Äôs basic function: holding all entities, including its own agencies, accountable for endangering the health and livelihood of American citizens.
If OFA and the environmental left had even a shred of credibility, they would be calling for investigations and mass firings. Instead, they‚Äôre twiddling their thumbs at best, and mostly engaging in outright excuse-making. As Burnett wrote at The American Spectator: ‚ÄúIf a private company had caused this disaster, federal and state officials would already be talking about criminal investigations, and civil suits would be filed claiming billions in damages. Heads would be rolling. By contrast, although EPA may transfer some of the people who supervised the disastrous operation, it‚Äôs likely few, if any, of its employees will be fired or forced to resign.‚ÄĚ
And disappointingly but unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are running defense for an EPA that should be investigated and reorganized, not praised and expanded. The Washington Times compiled an illuminating roundup of reactions to the Animas River tragedy from environmental organizations invested in centralizing government power as a means to their ends. No one should be shocked by their double standards, but we should certainly call them on it.
Courtesy of the Washington Times‚Äô Valerie Richardson:
The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain chapter posted a link to an article titled ‚Äė9 things you need to know about the Animas River spill.‚Äô The list includes ‚ÄėThe EPA messed up, but they‚Äôre not the root cause‚Äô and ‚ÄėThis isn‚Äôt the first time this has happened, nor is it the worst.‚Äô
‚ÄėBlaming the EPA for #AnimasRiver spill is like blaming a doctor for the disease,‚Äô Conservation Colorado said in a Wednesday tweet.‚ÄĚ
Really? These groups want us to believe that the ‚Äúmining companies and their practices‚ÄĚ are at the root of this problem when the Gold King Mine stopped its operations in 1923 and somehow, no damage was caused since until EPA employees unplugged a sufficiently blockaded source of pollution?
This is of course not to say that companies ought to have the right to pollute. They don‚Äôt. And they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law in accordance with a respect for property rights. But environmental groups ought to take their ideological blinders off and recognize the dangerous double standard they‚Äôre enabling when they make excuses for the EPA‚Äôs negligence.
To the extent that the EPA isn‚Äôt being held accountable as a private company in the same situation would, conservatives are bolstered in our argument that strong definitions of property rights and a small watchdog-sized government to enforce them are pro-environment policies. When government holds too much centralized power, there‚Äôs a built-in disincentive to pursue internal accountability measures. This ultimately hurts victims of their negligence the most.
In the wake of this tragedy, the EPA and its allies could sure use a wake-up call. If the Navajo Nation, which has been severely impacted by this pollution, follows through on their threat to sue, the EPA sure will have earned it. As Jonathan Lockwood of the free market advocacy group Advancing Colorado said:
‚ÄúThis environmental disaster is just one more example of why people do not trust the job-killing EPA and we have every right to question why our hard-earned money is going to such an incompetent and mismanaged government agency. This is now a multi-state issue, and people have every right to be absolutely outraged with the EPA, and the officials who continue to provide support and cover for this agency.‚ÄĚ
Clearly, it‚Äôs more than past time to hold the government to the same standards they hold us to.
Corie Whalen Stephens is a libertarian-conservative activist and writer based in Houston, Texas.
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