As Ronald Reagan said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
People living near the Animas River in Colorado surely have a new appreciation of that adage today as their once clear river took on a color witnesses described as being closer to that of carrot juice.
Don’t expect to get your daily dose of vitamins from this crud, though, as the color comes from a torrent of toxic waste from a local mine.
It seems a team of the EPA’s highly trained toxic waste remediation experts made a slight error of some kind.
The toxic waste water that was inside the Gold King Mine near Durango came gushing out when the team of experts used some heavy equipment to get inside the closed mine. Instead of pumping and treating the water, they spilled heavy metals including iron, zinc and copper into a creek that feeds into the Animas. The spill has already made its way to New Mexico and the San Juan River.
The EPA began testing the water for chemical levels on Thursday, and over the weekend officials said they didn’t know what the spill might do to wildlife or to drinking water in the area.
I feel bad for the people living near the Animas River, especially if they’re fishermen or like to use the river for recreation.
On the other hand, the EPA had this coming. After creating the Waters of the United States regulations giving itself the power to intrude on people’s private property if there’s so much as a puddle, this is just karmic payback.
On another level, this is the sort of disaster that is inevitable when the voters of the country expect Uncle Sam to be Big Daddy and take care of every local hiccup, burp and sneeze.
There are some things the federal government can do better than any local government. Creating a fearsome national military defense, for one.
But managing local messes isn’t one of those things.
It’s long past time to dismantle the EPA and let locals take back responsibility for cleaning up their own problems.
It’s not like they could do any worse.