ETHAN BARTON 12:07 AM 11/12/2015
Environmental Protection Agency officials awarded nearly $2.7 million in contract enhancements to Environmental Restoration LLC after the firm was involved in the Colorado Gold King Mine disaster that dumped three million gallons of yellow wastewater into a drinking water source for people in three states and the Navajo Nation.
The wastewater poured into the Animas River, a Colorado River tributary that supplies water to people in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The company also got a contract enhancement worth nearly $1 million from EPA on Aug. 4, 2015, the day before the spill, according to documents compiled by the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit government watchdog group.
A spokesman for EPA did not respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment, but Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the Open The Books government transparency non-profit, had a lot to say about EPA’s spending of federal tax dollars.
"The EPA has taken the concept of ‘performance bonus’ much too far by giving their on-site contractor even more work after a natural disaster at Gold King," Andrzejewski told TheDCNF.
"Had the spill soiled one of the EPA’s $730 office chairs, the contractor would have been fired on the spot. If the EPA spent as much time choosing contractors as they do shopping for furniture and military hardware, our environment would be a much cleaner place," he said.
Andrzejewski authored Open The Books’ recent "Oversight Report – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," which noted that the EPA spent $92.4 million on office furniture since 2005.
Environmental Restoration is the eighth largest EPA contract recipient, according to agency spending data compiled by Open The Books. The firm, which describes itself on its web site as "the largest provider of emergency response services to the" EPA, has received more than $511 million since 2001.
Just during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office, EPA has awarded Environmental Restoration with more than $367 million in contracts – more than two and a half times the $145 million the company received during President George W. Bush’s administration, after adjusting for inflation.
Environmental Restoration was awarded $1 million on Aug. 4 through a contract modification to work at the Gold King Mine site, according to the the Project on Government Oversight. Following the Aug. 5 spill, the company received another $1.2 million in modifications for work in the region, though the changes do not specifically mention the mine.
Environmental Restoration also received another $1.4 million for the "Emergency and Rapid Response Services for Region 8. Gold King Mine release," following the spill, the Project on Government Oversight reported.
Environmental Restoration, however, has had to return $328,680 to the EPA since Oct. 1, according to USAspending.gov.
Meanwhile, the total clean-up could cost taxpayers up to $27.7 billion, TheDCNF previously reported.
Environmental Restoration did not respond to a request for comment.