It's In the Genes, Or Perhaps the Water
GARDEN CITY, Ind. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence turns nostalgic when he talks about growing up in small-town Columbus, Indiana, where his father helped build a Midwestern empire of more than 200 gas stations that provided an upbringing on the “front row of the American dream.”
The collapse of Kiel Bros. Oil Co. in 2004 was widely publicized. Less known is that the state of Indiana — and, to a smaller extent, Kentucky and Illinois — are still on the hook for millions of dollars to clean up more than 85 contaminated sites across the three states, including underground tanks that leaked toxic chemicals into soil, streams and wells.
Indiana alone has spent at least $21 million on the cleanup thus far, or an average of about $500,000 per site, according an analysis of records by The Associated Press. And the work is nowhere near complete.
The federal government, meanwhile, plans to clean up a plume of cancer-causing solvent discovered beneath a former Kiel Bros. station that threatens drinking water near the Pence family’s hometown...
...Kiel Bros. has paid for only a fraction of the overall effort. In court documents , the company cited payment of $8.8 million in “indemnity and defense costs,” but also noted that $5 million of that amount came from the states.
Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management, which regulates gas stations, did not respond to a detailed list of questions from the AP. Spokesman Ryan Clem said the agency is working to provide records requested under Indiana’s public records law that could shed some light on how much former Kiel Bros. sites have cost the state.
Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah called the findings “a years old issue” that the vice president has addressed before. She did not elaborate.
In a statement, Pence’s older brother Greg Pence — who was president of Kiel Bros. when it went bankrupt and is now running for Congress as a Republican — distanced himself from the cleanup costs.
“Greg Pence has had nothing to do with Kiel Bros since 2004. This is another attempt by the liberal media to rehash old, baseless attacks,” campaign spokeswoman Molly Gillaspie said.
The fact that the company stuck taxpayers with the lion’s share of the cleanup bill rankles some observers, especially in light of the family’s reputation as budget hawks critical of government spending...