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EPA Finds That Existing Requirements Effectively Address Financial Risks from Three Industries

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WASHINGTON (November 25, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rulemakings on financial assurance requirements for the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing; and Chemical Manufacturing industries. EPA announced that following a detailed analysis, it finds that the financial risks from facilities in these industries are addressed by existing state and federal requirements to cover the costs of cleaning up possible hazardous substance releases. EPA’s final rulemakings do not remove any existing requirements; rather they do not impose additional, new requirements.

“EPA has found that existing environmental regulations and modern industry practices are sufficient to mitigate any risks inherent in these industries,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Using the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 108(b), EPA analyzed the need for additional, new financial assurance requirements for the electric power, petroleum and coal products manufacturing, and chemical manufacturing industries. EPA evaluated the financial risk to the federal Superfund program associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous substances in these industries. This included evaluation of the history of cleanups under Superfund, modern industry practices, applicable federal and state regulations, the industries’ financial health and economic trends, and the risk of taxpayer-funded cleanups of facilities in these industries. In addition to research and analysis, EPA reviewed and considered public comments to conclude that the level of risk is addressed by existing requirements and does not warrant new requirements for these industries. This is consistent with EPA’s interpretation of the statute, which was unanimously upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in litigation challenging the Agency’s hardrock mining final action not requiring additional financial assurance.

Section 108(b) of CERCLA (also known as Superfund) addresses potential requirements for financial responsibility to cover the costs associated with cleaning up releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances from facilities. In the 40 years since CERCLA became law, other state and federal requirements have been promulgated, so EPA has not needed to use this statutory authority to impose additional financial assurance requirements on classes of facilities to address the potential risk of releases of hazardous substances.

These final rulemakings will be published in one consolidated Federal Register notice and will be effective 30 days after publication.

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