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Idaho Conservation League v. Wheeler

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20122
Nos. 18-1141, (D.C. Cir., 07/19/2019)

The D.C. Circuit upheld EPA's decision not to issue financial responsibility requirements for the hard-rock mining industry. Environmental groups argued the decision violated CERCLA by wrongly interpreting the term "risk" in the operative provisions as limited to the risk of taxpayer-funded response actions. The court found the term was ambiguous and that EPA's interpretation that it should set financial responsibility requirements based on financial risks, not risks to health and the environment, was reasonable. The groups also argued that CERCLA required EPA to promulgate some requirements for the hard-rock mining industry, regarding of the meaning of "risk". The court found that the groups overstated CERCLA's mandate, which directed EPA to promulgate requirements for certain classes of facilities, but did not specify which. It therefore upheld EPA's decision.