The regulatory requirements for mining, especially in the United States are highly complicated and burdensome. Companies have to navigate a complex set of regulations and approvals for everything from site selection, design, construction, operations, and closure.
Local communities are increasingly rejecting mining because of perceived negative environmental and economic impacts. Even though every 100 direct-mining jobs results in 390 total in-direct jobs. Further mining can have a smaller environmental impact with proper precautions.
Regulatory compliance and environmental stewardship are critical to your success but don’t actually produce revenue.
Current Major Environmental Mining Federal Laws that Govern U.S. Mining
There are over 36 federal laws and regulations and over seven government agencies involved in the regulation of mining. All these rules and agencies make it difficult for companies to focus on their core competencies: extraction of minerals.
- National Environmental Policy
- Federal Land Policy and Management Act
- Clean Air Act
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
- Toxic Substance Control Act
- Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
- Endangered Species Act
- Migratory Bird Treat Act
- Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Anderson Engineering is a professional environmental compliance company that helps businesses deal with the expense of environmental regulations. We understand all the different regulatory agencies you have to comply with and we know how to help you stay in their good favor.
Environmental regulations are getting more and more complex, but companies can’t afford to ignore them. The cost of not complying with these regulations can be devastating to a company’s bottom line.
National Environmental Policy
The National Environmental Policy Act requires the government to account for federal actions that could affect human health. NEPA has been used to block or delay projects from being built because they could cause environmental damage including mining activities like uranium mill tailings, coal mines, mineral operations, and many more.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 makes sure that the federal government’s land-use activities are based on principles, including multiple-use management. The act does not provide any specific guidance or regulation for mining operations in particular but it sets a high bar by requiring an assessment that competes against the “multi-use” requirements of the law.
FLPMA is one of the major drivers behind Utah taking ownership of federal lands. Federal law primaryily governs mineral ownership, operations, and environmental compliance on public lands. State and local governments have concurrent or independent authorit over other aspects.
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Standards for air pollutants. The EPA considers a variety of factors, including all available scientific evidence and determinations by other government agencies before setting air standards which can be enforced through judicial review or delegation authority.
The Clean Air Act restricts emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide (SOx), nitrous oxides, and lead which are known or anticipated air pollutants due to their adverse effects on human welfare including any physical impairment; harmful interference with visibility in outdoor areas from smog during daytime hours; injury by inhalation sufficient enough as would constitute an acute effect at levels upwind adjacent communities but not otherwise causing chronic illness The EPA has established the baselines based on human health surveys, outdoor studies, and the Clean Air Act.
The major complaint we see at Anderson related to the Clean Air Act is dust from mining and transportation operations.
Federal Water Pollution Control Act
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, amended in 1972, regulates the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters. The act currently prohibits dumping without a permit and imposes guidelines for municipal wastewater treatment plants that must be met by July 1985
The U .S Department Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also set standards to limit toxic substances such as lead or mercury from being flushed down household drains with water containing less than 25 parts per million dissolved solids – these are called maximum containment levels(MCLs). EPA is responsible under section 112A-F which includes provisions like emergency action when imminent hazard; prohibition on certain emission releases; establishment authorization exemptions criteria terms conditions etc.; authority over hazardous substance site remediation programs .”
Safe Drinking Water Act
The Safe Water Drinking Act was originally passed in 1974 and largely amended in 1986. The Act provides the EPA with a framework for regulating public water systems, including drinking-water quality standards; monitoring requirements to ensure compliance of these regulations; procedures under which violations may be addressed by federal authorities or state agencies responsible.
The SDWA’s main goal is “to protect human health from adverse effects caused through ingestion” It sets out provisions that apply specifically across states but also establishes minimum national safety goals so all citizens are guaranteed similar levels of protection regardless of where they live.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act gives the EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from cradle to grave. It also sets minimum standards for hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal.
The RCRA is the main law governing solid wastes that are discarded after being used or processed in a manufacturing process (or at any point before reaching final use), as well such areas of concern to public health: air pollution from landfills; underground injection control program protection against releases into water resources by improper handling during drilling operations; release prevention programs pertaining specifically where there has been an accidental spillage within 100 meters downstream of files with drinking-water intakes.
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act
The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 is a federal law that provides for safe and environmentally sound disposal, long-term stabilization, and control of uranium mill tailings.
This law is a result of the discovery that mill tailings could be radioactive and endanger human health. The act provides for adequate inspection, monitoring programs to track contamination in both surface water runoff from mines as well radiation exposure pathways where there has been an accidental spillage within 100 meters downstream or locations with drinking-water intakes (such plants). It also establishes comprehensive federal oversight authority over uranium mining operations near major watersheds such as those which supply public utilities serving more than 25 customers per day.
The Act also provides for the establishment of a drainage system and to ensure that any spills or leaks are quickly identified, contained with appropriate barriers/solutions. These requirements were developed because mill tailings can be radioactive.
Toxic Substance Control Act
The Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) is a US federal law that regulates chemical substances and mixtures. The purpose of the Act, as stated in §2601(a)(14), “is to protect present generations from adverse health effects arising out exposure” to toxic chemicals by: “(A)” identify hazardous substance; (B”) regulate commerce which includes importation or exportation across state lines;”and”(C)”, require persons who manufacture any such article subject t regulation under this chapter to provide information respecting list ingredients.”
It also gives EPA authority over pesticides pursuant thereto if they are not regulated elsewhere like with FDA for food safety). The TSCA covers manufacturing processes involving listed air pollutants including volatile organic compounds. For mining activities, the TSCA is most commonly used to regulate air pollutant emissions.
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. The act requires facilities to produce a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous chemical and report releases of these chemicals.
The EPCRA also established requirements that companies must meet in order comply with the law, including informing employees about their work hazards; providing information on toxic substances found at one’s place or business employment site such as release inventory reports which are filed by facility owners annually listing quantities reported released from storage tanks into air/water effluents).
Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is a key legislation for both domestic and international conservation. The act aims to provide a framework to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats.
Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered of threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a specifies is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act first enacted in 1916, is the first legislation in U.S history to address international wildlife conservation and lays out protections for migratory birds covering nearly 1,100 species. The statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, or kill protected species.
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
The surface mining control and reclamation act of 1977, is a federal law that regulates coal mining on land in the United States. Coal production has been an important source of energy, employment, and tax revenue for many decades but also causes environmental degradation such as air emissions from burning fossil fuels (smog), contamination to water through erosion or runoff into waterways following rain events; extractive techniques used by strip mines are harming some wildlife habitats
“The Act establishes standards that will assure protection against adverse effects upon natural resources including man-made structures.”
SMCRA created two programs: one for regulating active coal mines and a second for reclaiming abandoned mine lands.
The Act establishes standards that will assure protection against adverse effects upon natural resources including man-made structures. The statute also provides for the integration of state and federal programs in coal mining regulation through a cooperative program known as SMCRA Title IV, which includes provisions to establish water quality goals; regulate surface mines under permit from States or Indian tribes (the ” State Program”); control air emissions at all active mine sites subjecting them by establishing emission limits on pollutants such with nitrogen oxide (), sulfur dioxide () particulate matter, carbon monoxide (); oversee closure plans when mined land is abandoned
As shown above, the regulatory requirements for mining, especially in the United States are highly complicated and burdensome. Companies have to navigate a complex set of regulations (I) from site selection all the way through operations; with approvals needed at every stage including design construction or operation.