- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The office was asked to assess how the states are monitoring and paying for the former mine site cleanups, and to figure out which federal laws may be used to enforce proper remediation of these sites. Paying the bills was not found to be a problem – the states used different methodologies for funding, but all essentially worked. However, the report concluded that monitoring the sites during and after cleanup was not going well, and that bad practices and persistent pollution were widespread problems.
The office also noted that several opportunities for regulating under federal rules were essentially going to waste, including the opportunity to apply CERCLA (i.e. make these into Superfund sites). Clean Water Act and RCRA application were two more avenues for enforcing cleanup and post-remediation monitoring, which were not in use; most often the Army Corps. of Engineers said they relied on SMCRA rules that allow for states to post bonds. According to the agencies, the report said, they have rarely or never needed to use these authorities.
A draft of this report was sent to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the Corps, the EPA, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia (Tennessee was excluded for having a full-cost, full-review bonding system in place) for review and comment. The federal agencies generally agreed with the report, while the states were critical of what they perceived to be the message of the report, the GAO said.