The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) responded to recent accusations fro the Associated Press (AP) that the agency was “missing in action” while Hurricane Harvey tore up the Texas gulf coast – destroying oil refineries and causing environmental damage.
On Sunday, an AP reporter named Michael Biesecker accused the EPA of not exercising adequate supervision and monitoring of the Superfund sites that lay within the path of Hurricane Harvey. Superfund sites are industrial areas that are so heavily contaminated that it takes an EPA grant to shut them down and contain the spread of toxic or carcinogenic waste.
In their response, Trump’s EPA explained, “Here’s the truth: through aerial imaging, EPA has already conducted initial assessments at 41 Superfund sites – 28 of those sites show no damage, and 13 have experienced flooding. This was left out of the original story, along with the fact that EPA and state agencies worked with responsible parties to secure Superfund sites before the hurricane hit. Leaving out this critical information is misleading.”
The statement by the EPA’s Associate Administrator, Liz Bowman even addressed Biesecker directly, saying, “Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey….“Unfortunately, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker has a history of not letting the facts get in the way of his story. Earlier this summer, he made-up a meeting that Administrator Pruitt had, and then deliberately discarded information that refuted his inaccurate story – ultimately prompting a nation-wide correction. Additionally, the Oklahoman took him to task for sensationalized reporting.”
Most importantly, though, is the damage that the AP’s irresponsible story may have on the recovery effort. The EPA, who is actively monitoring these superfund sites, admonished the AP saying, “not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and politicizes the hard work of first responders who are actually in the affected area.”
The AP was not at all happy with having their fake news story corrected, and complained, “We object to the EPA’s attempts to discredit that reporting by suggesting it was completed solely from ‘the comforts of Washington’ and stand by the work of both journalists who jointly reported and wrote the story.”