The EPA, an acronym for Environmental Protection Agency, is a government agency set up for the purpose of protecting people and the environment from manufacturing waste and chemicals, along with anything else that might be hazardous to the land, water and ecosystems of the United States.
In August of 2015, the EPA hired contractors to “assess” a shuttered gold mine called The Gold King. These contractors accidentally broke the seal on the mine, causing about 3 million gallons of chemical laced orange sludge to flow into the Animas River south of the mine and downstream into San Juan River. The sludge ultimately flowed through Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
The EPA took responsibility for the accident, (even though they did not report it until 24 hours after the fact,) and has spent $29 million to try and clean up the disaster and compensate communities to include the Navajo Nation.
The irony of the situation is that the owner of the Gold King mine vehemently denied access by the EPA to the mine for fear of such an incident occurring a second time on his property. The EPA had caused a similar incidence in a mine he owned in Leadville, Colorado. He was forced to allow access to the Gold King Mine as the EPA threatened lawsuits against him. Now, the EPA fines the owner $ 35,000 a day for the spill their agents caused.
The Navajo Nation endured particular hardship as their leaders were skeptical of whether the water was safe for human and animal use even after the EPA declared the situation contained.
To add insult to injury, the EPA sent 9 tanks of water to the Navajo Nation to supply their livestock with water. The water was packed into repurposed oil tanks that were supposedly steam cleaned and ready for storage of potable water.
The leader of the Navajo Nation returned the tanks unused as the water dispensed from the used tanks contained oil and sludge.
Now, there is another action by the Federal Government that threatens the life and livelihood of another tribe of Native Americans.
An oil pipeline that would go through the Missouri River is a threat to the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Not only is the pipeline an environmental threat, the construction company has already plowed up Native American artifacts and would pass through tribal burial sites of consecrated ground.
This action has generated a huge protest of both Native Americans and many others, some are celebrities who lend their voices to this disservice to the Native American community and the surrounding lands. Those on Facebook have generated attention to all people who see the injustice in this so called progress at the expense of healthy water.
The questions remain as to why, when this kind of “progress” is generated, it has to go through Indian land and disturb their cultural areas? Hasn’t the federal government done enough damage to Native Americans, removing and disturbing some tribes to the point of extinction, without continuing the practice into the twenty first century?
Why should the Standing Sioux tribe be forced to accept the destruction of their land to make some oil company prosperous?
The government had given and taken back the lands that were allotted to Native Americans more times than can be counted.
How can any organization even think that used oil tanks can be repurposed to hold potable water? Why is it okay to cut corners with the used tanks and not acquire new, clean tanks to send water to a desert region that cannot access the water supply because the river has been polluted through a government agency’s error?
How cruel can that be? Is it intentional or just some government dullard who made an irresponsible financial decision?
Who decided it was okay to use any old thing to contain water because it is for Native Americans?
Why does the EPA have to demand access to a mine that was adequately shut down by the owner, and then allow their “inspection” contractors to make such a huge mistake with said owner two separate times?
Is it a coincidence or not? The most disturbing and best question of all.
Native Americans are not the only ones who need to demand the halt of government overreach!
Image: By Riverhugger – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42301129