Mining companies are fired up about a proposed federal rule change that would jack up the purse companies must have access to in order to cover any environmental damage their work might cause.
The proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) changes shift the burden of financing Superfund cleanups — which are also known as National Priority List, or NPL, sites — away from the federal government to the mining facilities, a move that would cost the industry $171 million a year and save the EPA $527 million over 34 years, according to the agency’s Regulatory Impact Analysis.
Companies see an added burden as much as 20 times higher from the insurance and bonds they would be required to get, and believe the change will have a devastating impact on the economy of states like Nevada, which leads the U.S. in gold production, and other metal-mining states, most of them in the western half of the country.
The change to Section 108(b) of the EPA’s Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) is meant to “increase the likelihood that those owners and operators will have funds necessary to address the CERCLA liabilities at their facilities, thus preventing the burden of cleanup from falling to other parties, including the American taxpayer.”
But at what cost?
One Nevada gold mining company reports that its bonding requirement could skyrocket from $20.4 million to $495.8 million. And an Arizona copper mine will be on the hook for an extra $715 million, despite getting some relief the new rule allows for safe mining practices.
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