You have to hand it to the Environmental Protection Agency; when it comes to hypocrisy, they do it right.
The Associated Press reported in recent days that officials at the EPA – arguably one of the most bothersome of all federal agencies – will begin requiring mining companies to demonstrate that they have the financial capability to clean up any of their pollution so that taxpayers are not stuck having to do so.
This is the same agency, mind you, that supervised a 3–4 million gallon spill of toxic water from the Gold King Mine in Colorado last year, turning miles and miles of pristine waterways into a yellow-stained toxic morass – a stunt that should have landed at least some EPA officials in a courtroom.
More expensive new rules that taxpayers will pay for anyway
The EPA proposal, the AP reported, follows a 2016 agreement reached via a court order for the government to begin enforcing a long-ignored provision of a 1980 federal Superfund law. Those statutes apply to hardrock mining, which includes mining for copper, iron, lead, precious metals and other ores. It would pertain to mines and processing facilities in 38 states, and would require mine operators and owners to put aside sufficient funds to pay to clean up any future spills.
The EPA is also said to be considering imposing similar requirements on chemical manufacturers, the petroleum refining and coal manufacturing industries, and power generation companies – all measures that would again impose new costs that would, of course, be passed onto consumers via higher bills (so taxpayers will be paying for new cleanups anyway).
The AP reported that the agency spent $1.1 billion working to clean up abandoned hardrock mining and processing sites around the country, from 2010 to 2014. The new rule would thus “move the financial burden from taxpayers and ensure that industry assumes responsibility for these cleanups,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus.
But, again, what about when the EPA is the one responsible for the spill? That’s always going to be on taxpayers, because the EPA is a federal agency and is not in the private sector. And though the EPA only spent about $1.1 billion on cleanup over four years, the new rule would impose costs of $7.1 billion on mining companies and the energy sector, according to EPA estimates (which are probably low).
The agency said that the money could be covered by third parties like surety bonds or self-insured corporations making guarantees.
EPA never held responsible
As the Gold King Mine disaster proved, contaminated water from old, abandoned mines can escape if not handled properly, and flow into fresh water sources like rivers, ground water and even water tables. That, of course, puts humans and animals at risk of having their drinking water polluted (though you can ensure you always have clean drinking water).
In the past, some companies have avoided cleanup costs by declaring bankruptcy – which, granted, is also not fair to taxpayers. But making a new rule that would require companies to take responsibility when the EPA itself won’t do so is a bad joke. As the AP noted:
“Last year, an EPA cleanup team accidentally triggered a 3-million gallon spill of contaminated water from Colorado’s inactive Gold King mine, tainting rivers in three states with heavy metals including arsenic and lead.”
Left-wing organizations that love big government have been pushing the EPA to punish companies (while excusing its own sorry behavior when it comes to contaminating the environment with toxic mine water spills). But Republican members of Congress are not biting. In fact, as the AP reported, “Echoing the industry’s concerns were U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah and Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan. The Republicans said programs in place at the state level already ensure the environment is protected.”
As Natural News reported in January, the EPA even admitted it was at fault for the Gold King spill, but it gets away with making mistakes – all while punishing private companies for doing the same thing.