@EPA: “…abolishing the agency…I personally think it’s a good idea” — Myron Ebell

From ColoradoPolitics.com (Peter Marcus) via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The man who led transition efforts for President Trump at the EPA said the administration’s proposed budget signals a commitment to abolish the agency.

But Myron Ebell, a Colorado College graduate and an outspoken climate change skeptic who leads energy and environment policy at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said it is not an overnight effort.

The administration’s preliminary 2018 budget proposal released Thursday charts a course that could lead to the end of the federal environmental agency, Ebell said, speaking to a conservative group at the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute in Denver on Thursday.

Ebell had proposed Trump make a 10 percent cut to the EPA in his first budget request. The proposal unveiled Thursday would cut the agency by significantly more, up to 31 percent. It represents about a $2.6 billion cut to the agency’s relatively small, when compared to other federal agencies, $8.2 billion budget.

The cuts would result in about 3,200 employees being laid off in the initial wave, which could include many regional staff. Denver is home to Region 8 headquarters, a multi-state jurisdiction that covers much of the Intermountain West, which employs about 500 people.

“I think there’s a serious commitment here to draining the swamp,” Ebell, calling upon a popular Trump campaign mantra, said to applause.

The preliminary budget request would eliminate as much as a fifth of the agency’s workforce, which stands at around 15,000. More than 50 programs would be eliminated, including energy grants that help to fight air pollution. Scientific research would also face massive cuts.

Environmental interests had feared Trump’s budget proposal would start to chip away at the EPA, ultimately leading to closure. News of the preliminary budget sent many into a tailspin, as it potentially signals a much faster outcome.

Trump also proposed a 12 percent cut to the Interior Department and a 5.6 percent cut to the Department of Energy.

“The president’s budget is a moral document, and President Trump has shown us exactly where he stands. These unprecedented cuts will hamper the ability of our park rangers, scientists, those who enforce the law against polluters, and other Coloradans from doing their important work,” said Jessica Goad, spokeswoman for Conservation Colorado.

“This is not just cutting the fat, this is a complete butchering of programs and jobs that are critical to Colorado.”

The move leaves specific uncertainty in Colorado, where the EPA has promised to cleanup toxic leaking mines that are spilling into the Animas River in Durango. The Gold King Mine spill in August 2015 was triggered by an EPA engineering error, causing about 3 million gallons of mustard yellow sludge to pour into the river.

In the aftermath of the spill, the EPA declared the area a Superfund site, which allows it to spend significant resources to implement a long-term water quality cleanup effort. Some worry those efforts would be diminished by reductions at the EPA.

But Ebell said a pushback to the EPA’s “regulatory rampage” does not mean that environmental controls would go away. He said regulations would still be enforced – especially on the state level – including around Superfund sites and clean drinking water.

“The question is, why do we need 15,000 people working for the EPA?” asked Ebell. “I understand why we need some … Maybe abolishing the agency is something that President Trump … would want to have a discussion about … I personally think it’s a good idea.”

Busting up the EPA is not a good idea, Myron.

Whit Gibbons: ‘Why do we need the Environmental Protection Agency?’

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From the Tuscaloosa News (Whit Gibbons). Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Want to have cancer-causing, bird-killing DDT sprayed in your neighborhood? How about having high levels of brain- damaging mercury dumped into your favorite fishing spot? What about paper mill wastes clogging up rivers and fouling the air people breathe?

These health hazards were once commonplace in communities throughout our country. That they are no longer the hazards they once were is due in no small part to the Environmental Protection Agency, which protects us from these and other environmental abuses. Without EPA oversight, the United States would be a much less healthy place to live.

Those who believe we do not need federal regulation of activities that can turn the country into a toxic waste dump are likely unaware of the far-reaching environmental and human health consequences of such actions. They may also not want to accept the fact that some individuals and many corporations will put profit ahead of all other considerations–including the health and well-being of the general populace.

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

Attorney General Suthers proposes $1.6 million settlement for Lowry Landfill

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From the Aurora Sentinel (Brandon Johannson):

According to a statement from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, the state reached a settlement with the property owner, operator and groups that sent waste to the landfill. Suthers said the settlement means the state and those involved can avoid lengthy and expensive litigation to determine to what extent each group was involved. “This settlement provides an equitable and appropriate solution to address the injuries at the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site,” Suthers said in the statement. “The agreement will allow Colorado to move forward on resource restoration instead of spending years locked in costly litigation.”

The 508-acre site is in unincorporated Arapahoe County near East Hampden Avenue and South Gun Club Road, less than a mile east of E-470. According to Suthers’ office, it was the principal landfill for the Front Range as well as the industrial landfill for many Colorado companies, taking solid and liquid waste from 1965 through 1980 and solid waste from 1980 until 1990.

The settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, is now open for public comment for the next 30 days.

Under the first settlement, the companies and entities that contributed waste materials to the site will pay the state more than $1.1 million, money that will assist the state in restoring natural resources and compensate for damage to the groundwater at the site, according to Suthers’ statement.

A second settlement, between the state and the City and County of Denver, Waste Management of Colorado and Chemical Waste Management, Inc., will require the parties to pay the state $500,000, the statement said. That money will be used for a loan for low- to middle-income households needing sewer repairs, something the statement said will help improve groundwater quality in the South Platte River watershed.

More Lowry Landfill coverage here.

Attorney General Suthers proposes $1.6 million settlement for Lowry Landfill

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Companies that contributed to pollution at the 508-acre site and now would pay damages to the state, include Molson Coors Brewing Co., ConocoPhillips Co., Gates Corp., Shell Oil Co., Cyprus Amax Minerals Co., Roche Colorado Corp., S.W. Shattuck Chemical Co. and Alumet Partnership. The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District and the cities of Littleton, Englewood and Lakewood also would pay.

State prosecutors focused on lost public use of groundwater. “This settlement provides an equitable and appropriate solution to address the injuries at the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site,” state Attorney General John Suthers said. “The agreement will allow Colorado to move forward on resource restoration instead of spending years locked in costly litigation.”[…]

Denver set up the landfill in 1964 using land in Arapahoe County that had been used as a bombing range and conveyed by the federal government. Companies dumped about 138 million gallons of liquid industrial waste at the site near Gun Club Road and East Hampden Avenue between 1965 and 1980. Then, Waste Management Inc. ran the landfill for garbage disposal until 1990. An Environmental Protection Agency investigation in 1994 established the presence of hazardous substances in the groundwater, surface water and soils. A cleanup that began in the mid-1980s — run by the state with EPA supervision — is still incomplete.

The settlements, proposed in U.S. District Court, depend on comments received over a 30-day period. Under one settlement with Denver, Waste Management and Chemical Waste Management Inc., about $500,000 would be used for loans to low- and middle-income households needing sewer repairs to help improve groundwater…

EPA officials monitor efforts to contain and reduce a toxic plume in shallow groundwater, [EPA spokesman Rich] Mylott said. That water is being treated. State and federal cleanup officials have indicated no significant health risk linked to contamination at the landfill.

More superfund coverage here.