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EPA employees won't face charges over Colorado mine spill

EPA employees won't face charges over Colorado mine spill
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided not to prosecute an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee involved in last year’s massive spill of toxic mine waste in Colorado.

A year-long investigation by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the unnamed employee may have broken federal water pollution law and may have made false statements to law enforcement officials regarding the Gold King Mine spill.

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But after the OIG referred its findings for potential prosecution, the United States Attorney for Colorado, headed by acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, declined last week to pursue the charges, OIG spokesman Jeffrey Lagda said Wednesday.

The decision by the Troyer’s office means that no one will be prosecuted as a result of the OIG’s investigation into the incident.

It closes a significant chapter on the August 2015 incident, in which an EPA contractor doing work toward cleaning up the abandoned mine caused 3 million gallons of sludge containing heavy metals such as arsenic and cadmium into a tributary of the Animas River.

The EPA immediately took responsibility for the spill and provided millions of dollars to the area to help it recover. But the agency has still be criticized repeatedly for its actions leading to and following the spill.

Three House Republicans slammed the DOJ Wednesday for declining to pursue charges.

“By not taking up the case, the Department of Justice looks like it is going easy on its colleagues in EPA,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler Bruce Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee MORE (R-Utah), Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah) and oversight subcommittee on interior Chairwoman Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results LIVE COVERAGE: Congress certifies Biden win after Pennsylvania, Arizona challenges fail Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Wyo.) wrote in a letter to DOJ.

“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 EPA disaster deserves the same level of accountability to which private citizens are held,” they said.

The OIG briefed congressional staff on the news Tuesday, and the GOP lawmakers said the OIG’s findings showed evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The OIG is still investigating the Gold King incident, but the criminal portion of its probe has closed.