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Press Release

Alaska Defending State's Right to Regulate Hard Rock Mining

June 18, 2018

(Anchorage, AK) – The State of Alaska today joined 13 other states in seeking to intervene in a lawsuit concerning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to defer to state hard rock mining laws. Instead of imposing a federal requirement for financial assurances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the EPA recognized that states, such as Alaska, have robust financial bonding and regulatory requirements in place to protect the environment, making a federal requirement relating only to the release of hazardous substances unnecessary.

“The federal one-size fits all approach rarely works for our unique state,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “It is in the State’s best interest to defend the EPA’s decision and retain authority over hard rock mining.”

The EPA had previously proposed new federal requirements that would have potentially preempted state reclamation regulations relating to financial assurances. The State submitted public comments explaining the State’s existing program and how the proposed regulations may inhibit the State’s ability to adequately regulate hard rock mining in Alaska. In response to these comments and similar comments from other states, the EPA decided not to impose additional bonding requirements for the release of hazardous substances under CERCLA. The EPA noted in its decision that robust state programs such as those in place in Alaska already reduce the risk of the release of hazardous substances, and that its decision prevented the potential for preemption of these well-developed state programs.

On May 16, 2018, Earthjustice filed a petition for review of the EPA’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. The State is now seeking to intervene in support of the EPA.

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Ashley Brown at ashley.brown@alaska.gov or (907) 269-5100.

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