Daines pleased with EPA decision to scuttle mine cleanup funding proposal

Sen. Steve Daines

Sen. Steve Daines joined several other Western Republicans in praising a decision by the Trump administration to forgo a proposed regulation that would have ensured hard-rock mining companies are able to pay for cleanup once they’re done.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the decision over the weekend, a move that reverses an Obama administration proposal issued last year.

“I urged then President-elect Trump to stop the EPA’s overreach into state regulation harming Montana businesses,” Daines said in a statement. “Instead of threatening the very industries that are a backbone of our Western economies, we need to support American families and American businesses to secure our mineral and energy independence.”

The decision plays to the mining industry, which had opposed the proposed hard-rock mining financial responsibility rule, which had support among Democrats and Western environmental groups.

The proposal would have applied to companies mining non-coal minerals like gold, copper and silver, requiring them to demonstrate they had the financial wherewithal, like bonds or insurance, to cover clean-up costs once they’re finished.

“I am pleased with the action the EPA has taken,” said Daines, who currently chairs the Senate Western Caucus.

The EPA said that after reviewing how the mining industry operates, it found that it doesn’t have any problems with financial responsibility that requires regulation.

“After careful analysis of public comments, the statutory authority, and the record for this rulemaking, EPA is confident that modern industry practices, along with existing state and federal requirements address risks from operating hard-rock mining facilities,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.