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Chairmen’s Letter to Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General Raises Serious Concerns About the Gold King Mine Spill Review

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 18, 2015 -

Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr., strongly questioned the timing and substance of interviews conducted two weeks ago by EPA officials with material witnesses that could compromise the OIG’s ongoing independent review of the Gold King Mine Release.  The OIG’s report is not expected to be completed until early 2016.

“[T]he Committee on Natural Resources is troubled by the EPA’s disclosure last week that it had recently interviewed two material witnesses to the EPA’s activities at Gold King Mine.  Specifically, the Committee is concerned that the EPA’s interview did not follow best investigative practices and may have interfered with the OIG’s ongoing investigation,” the letter states.

On December 8, 2015, the EPA released an addendum document which, according to EPA, is intended to “clarify any misunderstandings about the incident.” The addendum is based on an interview on December 2, 2015, between EPA officials and the two On-Scene Coordinators most closely associated with the Gold King Mine blowout.  The interviews and the addendum were publicly released nearly four months after the EPA-caused Gold King Mine spill occurred and the OIG’s announcement of its internal, independent review of EPA’s handling of the incident.

The 13-page letter deconstructs “inconsistencies” and “shifting accounts” from EPA and the Department of the Interior on the Gold King Mine disaster and shows that EPA’s addendum, rather than providing clarity, has only served to obfuscate efforts to understand the events leading up to the blowout.

The letter concludes by requesting information from EPA’s OIG concerning its communications with EPA during, and leading up to, its review of the Gold King Mine Release.

Click here to read the letter.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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