EPA’s Unnecessary, Burdensome CERCLA Rule Will Harm Mining, Manufacturing in America

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft rulemaking that would impose new CERCLA 108(b) financial assurance regulations on hardrock mines, a move that defies strong congressional opposition, ignores the concerns of states and small businesses, and threatens the nation’s mineral security.

“I have opposed the EPA’s efforts to impose new financial assurance requirements on hardrock mines from the start, and have consistently fought their efforts to move forward with this misguided rulemaking,” Murkowski said. “A number of financial assurance requirements already exist at both the state and federal level. This rule is duplicative and will result in an unnecessary burden that damages many of our nation’s mineral producers. It will not result in safer mines or better mine clean-up, but instead fewer mines, lower mineral security and a weaker manufacturing sector in our country. I will work to stop this rule in its tracks and call on the EPA to begin fixing the mess it is creating by extending the comment period by an additional 120 days.”

The rule proposed today could be the first in a series that will emerge as a consequence of settlements the EPA entered into with environmental groups in 2009. The industries that will next be subjected to similar requirements by the EPA are chemical manufacturing; electric generation, transmission and distribution; and petroleum and coal product manufacturing.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In 2011, she sent a letter to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with a series of questions highlighting the duplicative and unnecessary nature of EPA’s involvement in this area. Murkowski has also questioned administration officials on this issue at Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearings and, as chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, has sought to block the rule’s promulgation through her annual bill.