The Environmental Protection Agency issued major new regulations for the mining industry on Friday, sparking the ire of Republican congressional leaders.
The agency issued the rules under a court settlement with environmental groups, which Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, called “more of the same special interest handouts from this administration.”
The proposed regulations would force owners of hardrock mines to demonstrate their ability to pay for the cleanup of toxic substances that result from metal and mineral mining under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Mining companies would not be permitted to abandon their facilities and leave the cost of cleaning up the mines to taxpayers, the EPA said.
“Far too often the American people bear the costs of expensive environmental cleanups stemming from hardrock mining and mineral processing,” said Mathy Stanislaus, the head of EPA’s land management office. “This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers, and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups. The proposed rule would also give companies an economic incentive to use environmentally protective practices that can help prevent future releases.”