EPA’s proposed financial responsibility rule for miners a ‘job killer’ — industry

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday a new set of financial responsibility requirements for the hard rock mining industry, which main goal is said to be protecting taxpayers from having to carry the weight of expensive clean-up operations.

Under the proposed regulation, companies mining non-coal minerals such as gold, silver, copper or lead would have to demonstrate to the EPA that they can afford clean-up costs once the mine is closed. And they’d have to do so through bonds, insurance, self-insurance or similar.

Firms mining non-coal minerals such as gold, silver, copper or lead would have to demonstrate to the EPA that they can afford clean-up costs once they shut their mines.

“Far too often the American people bear the costs of expensive environmental clean-ups stemming from hard-rock mining and mineral processing,” Mathy Stanislaus, the EPA’s assistant administrator for land programs, said in a statement.

“This proposed rule, once finalized, would move the financial burden from taxpayers, and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” he noted.

But the American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA), which represents about 2,500 firms involved in prospecting, exploring, mining, and reclamation closure activities, is calling the suggested norm “a job killer.”

“This proposed rule serves no purpose other than to stop investment in America’s mineral supply chain and drive jobs away,” Laura Skaer, AEMA Executive Director, said in a statement. “It provides no discernable environmental benefit, while adding hundreds of millions of dollars of costs and regulatory compliance burdens on industry.”

The National Mining Association also slammed the proposal. “This rule is unnecessary, redundant and poorly constructed, and exemplifies all the problems of rushed rulemaking from an outgoing administration,” president Hal Quinn said in a statement.

While President-elect Donald Trump’s administration may change the tabled guidelines, the environmental agency must comply with a court order to publish a final rule on the subject by December 2017.

EPA will be accepting comments on the proposal for 60 days.