Does EPA wear the Copper Collar? (Arco defends EPA actions Apr. 15 The Montana Standard).
If unfamiliar with the term, the Copper Collar was coined to describe an individual or an organization that the Anaconda Company, Arco’s predecessor in Butte, controlled. In the 19th and much of the 20th century, the Anaconda Co. controlled Montana’s government.
Public regulatory agencies, such as the EPA, are often “captured” by those they are supposed to regulate, i.e. these public agencies become more concerned about promoting the interests of the industry they are supposed to regulate than they are in promoting the public interest. In terms of Superfund cleanup in Butte, whose interest is EPA promoting and protecting? The public’s or Arco’s?
Routinely, EPA has made Butte Superfund cleanup decisions not on the basis of what would be most protective of human health and the environment but on the basis of saving money. EPA says removing the Parrot Tailings would be too costly. EPA says removing the toxic waste left in place in Butte would be too costly. Too costly for whom? EPA appears to be more interested in protecting ARco’s bottom line than protecting the health of Butte residents.
In the debate about the efficacy of the EPA’s cleanup in Butte, the only support EPA has received has come from Arco. Why is Arco so effusive in praising EPA? Is it because EPA is so interested in saving Arco money? Arco is doing what corporations are supposed to do: maximize corporate profit.
EPA, as a government agency, is supposed to protect the people and the public interest. Only government is charged with promoting the general welfare and only government can check corporate power.
How can EPA perform its duty to protect the public if it acts like it wears the old Copper Collar? Whom does EPA serve?
John W. Ray
915 West Galena St., Butte