US EPA Proposes Rules Governing Financial Responsibility for Hard Rock Mines & Processing Facilities
On December 1, 2016, US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy complied with a court order and signed a proposed Superfund rule to require facilities in the hard rock mining industry to provide financial assurance for cleanup and related environmental costs, as required by Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). 42 U.S.C. § 9608(b). US EPA intends the rule to provide adequate funding for CERCLA cleanups, if such work is needed at an affected facility. This rule is expected by US EPA and by the industry to be quite costly, between US$111 and US$171 million a year, according to EPA – more according to some industry critics. In part because of its expected cost, and in part because of its great complexity, the proposal and US EPA’s decisions about the final rule are expected to be controversial. US EPA has solicited comments about the merits and problems with its proposal, and has requested comments on specific aspects of the proposal. Those comments are due to US EPA 60 days after publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register. Although that date has not yet been fixed, the comment deadline seems likely to be mid-February 2017.