The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ignoring modern mining practices and rushing to enact a new financial assurance rule that could damage the hardrock mining industry and the American economy.
In essence, EPA’s rule is designed to assess the risk of potential hazardous substance releases, estimate the cost for a potential future cleanup and require a company to set aside capital to guarantee that it can pay for the cleanup if necessary. Ensuring the public isn’t liable for environmental cleanups is a good goal. But EPA ignores the existing laws and regulations that already provide such protection to the public and, more importantly, minimize and prevent releases in the first place. In fact, complex state and federal laws and regulations address every aspect of modern mining from exploration to development, operation, reclamation, closure and post-closure. As such, mining companies already commit tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that money is set aside to properly close, monitor and remediate any long-term environmental issues. EPA wants to create an entirely new program on top of these existing frameworks and require companies to tie up additional tens of millions of dollars from uses that could positively benefit our economy.
And EPA is relying on a formula that exaggerates the risks at modern mining facilities, resulting in an overinflated regulatory price tag. EPA’s financial assurance rule is based on hypothetical mining scenarios not representative of actual U.S. mines and mining practices. The formula assumes that every mining project is one-size-fits-all; they disregard the unique geography, terrain, climate, mining methods and existing state and federal regulations of each particular site. Essentially EPA is creating a formula where one-size-fits-none.
More troubling is that, in an effort to expedite this regulation, EPA has sought only superficial input in the rulemaking process. EPA has had little to no substantive consultation with experts in the mining or financial sectors. The agency has also paid little respect to the consultation processes required by law for small businesses and states. EPA refuses to share with these stakeholders the information necessary to provide an honest assessment of the potential impacts and suggest regulatory alternatives to minimize the economic impact of the rule and prevent duplicative standards.
The U.S. hardrock mining industry works with experts to ensure careful consideration of the potential environmental impact of every project. Before mining begins, there is always a comprehensive planning process and funding in place for restoring mined land. By investing in advanced technologies and processes, while adhering to strict standards, mining companies are key players in environmental stewardship.
The mining industry is vital to the U.S. economy. If enacted, EPA’s rule could cripple the hardrock mining industry and hurt other vital industries that rely on our nation’s mineral resources, such as infrastructure, manufacturing and energy production.
Recently, concerned stakeholders—including the Western Governors’ Association, the chairmen of the House Natural Resources Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, the Interstate Mining Compact Commission—have voiced their concerns about the EPA’s proposed rule.
Fortunately, you can add your voice to this debate and help stop EPA from fast-tracking this duplicative and unnecessary rule. Take action by signing our petition today.
See our newest infographic to learn more about EPA's financial assurance rule here.