In response to a recent court order, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has renewed its efforts to finalize a rule establishing financial responsibility requirements for the hardrock mining sector under Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).
On May 19, the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order directing the agency “to expedite to the greatest possible extent” its development of CERCLA financial assurance rules for hardrock mines. This rule has been in development since at least 2009. The rule would require owners and operators of hardrock mining facilities to establish and maintain evidence of financial responsibility that is “consistent with the degree and duration of risk associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous substances.” The rule will apply to the extraction, beneficiation, or processing of metals and non-metallic, non-fuel minerals.
EPA already appears to be taking action in response to the court’s order. On June 8, 2012, the agency announced it was seeking nominations from small business entities that may be subject to the new regulations to serve as Small Business Representatives (SERs) advising the federal panel on the proposed rule. EPA is required to establish this panel, which includes representatives from EPA, the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration, for any rule that will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities. Nominations to serve as an SER are due on June 22, 2015.
EPA will file an updated rulemaking schedule that sets out the agency’s dates for the proposed and final rule with the D.C. Circuit by June 23, 2015.