It looks like a took a Congressional hearing in Washington, DC to get the ball moving, but Alaska Governor Sean Parnell announced last Thursday, the same day as a hearing on the issue, that a special counsel will investigate the EPA's armed raid over the summer of the mining town of Chicken, Alaska (population 7 at the last census). The agency sent a heavily armed team eight strong over possible violations of the Clean Water Act, an act the miners said amounted to intimidation. Residents questioned the need for armed agents to participate in what amounted to a water safety check, as well as the public safety threat the action posed.
While EPA officials dodged last week's hearings, saying they couldn't attend because of the government shutdown (is it keeping them too busy to show up for a hearing? seems like they'd have nothing better to do than exercise their civic duty and pride by testifying), the agency had previously defended the actions (via statement!). The Washington Times reports:
The agency released a statement in September saying that the inspections were not raids, but part of an "ongoing investigation" into potential violations of the Clean Water Act.
The statement also defended the agents' carrying of firearms, saying that such investigations "may include the arrest of offenders and the protection of public safety."
"Environmental law enforcement, like other forms of law enforcement, always involves the potential for physical, even armed, confrontation," said the statement.
Of particular note is that the "potential for physical, even armed confrontation" in these kinds of situations is introduced by the armed EPA agents, who are enforcing a law not based on a violent crime.
93 percent of EPA employees have been furloughed for the partial government shutdown, probably leaving just the ones with the guns, the standard practice during this shutdown.
Bonus: here is a propagandtastic video explaining what EPA special agents do. The takeaway is they really want you to know they are a real law enforcement agency.
h/t Longtorso, Johnny