Environmental groups filed suit [Earthjustice press release; petition, PDF] against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt [official profile] on Wednesday after he halted [EPA Rule Summary] the rulemaking process for a regulation that would would required mining companies to show that they have enough funding prior to commencing operations to cover the cleanup of harmful substances produced from mining.
The suit was brought by Earthjustice [website] on behalf of Earthworks, Sierra Club, Idaho Conservation League, Amigos Bravos, Communities for a Better Environment and Great Basin Resource Watch [advocacy websites]. The rule was meant to prevent polluted mine sites that harm public health after mining companies become insolvent and abandon the sites without negating the effects of their work. The cost for cleanup is usually put on the taxpayers and causes delays in remedying the effects, forcing communities to live with the consequences.
In a December statement, Pruitt said [EPA press release] the regulation unnecessarily burdens mining, which provides employment in mostly rural parts of the country. The EPA estimates the accumulation of cleanup costs for hard-rock mines to be between $20-54 billion.