EPA Agrees to Push Back Comment Deadline for Proposed Financial Assurance Regs

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently extended the public comment period for a proposed rule which would impose financial assurances requirements for cleanups conducted by companies in the hardrock mining industry, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In publishing the proposed rule on January 11, 2017, the EPA established a 60-day comment period for impacted parties to present their views on the rule to EPA. An overview of the financial assurance requirements imposed by CERCLA and the details of the proposed rule can be found in our prior posts on June 13, 2016 and January 4, 2017.

On February 17, 2017, Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Bill Shuster (R- PA) asked then-acting EPA Administrator Catherine McCabe to extend the comment period into the summer of 2017, citing the intricacies of the rule and complicated statistics on which EPA relied in drafting the rule. A week later, on February 24, 2017, recently confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted the request and extended the comment period by four months, claiming that the extension was in response to dozens of requests from stakeholders, in addition to the letter from the congressmen. Comments on the proposed rule are now due by July 11, 2017.

The environmental attorneys at Gibbons P.C. will continue to monitor the progress of the proposed rule and report on any important developments.