Navajos Want EPA Head to Answer Questions About Agency’s Role in Environmental Disaster

The President of the Navajo Nation stands behind U.S. Senator John McCain’s move to subpoena the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, forcing her to testify before a Senate Committee field hearing exploring the Gold King Mine environmental disaster of last summer.

Russell Begaye says he wants Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA to come before the people of Arizona and called it “unacceptable” for her to refuse to testify.

“As the administrator of the EPA, it is McCarthy’s responsibility to appear at this important hearing to personally provide information about the EPA’s reckless actions and explain how and when this federal agency intends to compensate our families,” said Begaye in a recent press release.

He said he supports Sen. McCain’s move to subpoena McCarthy.

It was last year when EPA workers opened a small dam at a closed gold mine in southern Colorado, releasing a flood of contaminated water into a nearby river which eventually flowed into New Mexico and Arizona.

“Supposed this had happened in a non-Indian area. The EPA representatives would have been up in arms—a national scandal,” said McCain in launching his subpoena move. “Instead, not only has the issue not been resolved but the EPA, doesn’t even want to send a representative to a hearing that needs to be held on behalf of these Navajo families whose lands and livelihood and lives have been devastated.”

The spill also angered Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was August 5, 2015 when EPA personnel and a contractor were working on a tailing pond at the entrance to the mine when the dam was breached and the toxic sludge poured into the nearby Cement Creek which fed the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado. The spill affected cities and towns and farmland in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah as well as the Navajo Nation.