"At least three companies linked by the Environmental Protection Agency to hazardous waste sites are being paid by the government to clean up their own sites, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity."
Cleaning Up Mining Waste
"Since the California gold rush in the middle of the 19th century, hardrock mining has produced hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of gold, silver, copper, lead, and other minerals. One unfortunate legacy of this production is the presence of many abandoned mines around the West. Some of these sites are causing severe environmental problems, including acid drainage, which occurs when contaminated water leaks from the mines into streams and rivers.
This paper reviews current policies for cleaning up these abandoned mines and makes recommendations for improving those policies.
Current government policies to cope with these abandoned mines are counterproductive. The Clean Water Act and the Superfund law (CERCLA) make current mine owners liable for the costs of cleaning up problems caused by previous owners—as much as a century and a half earlier. ...
It is our view that the only way to achieve significant cleanup of old sites is a change in liability. The Clean Water Act and CERCLA should be revised so that liability attaches only if a new site owner leaves the site in worse condition than before. Such a law would encourage additional mining and additional cleanup."
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