The federal government said power plants, chemical manufacturers, and others don’t need coverage.
The outgoing Trump administration has drawn fresh criticism from environmentalists after having announced that pollution cleanup insurance was not required for chemical manufacturers, power plants, or oil and gas producers.
These facilities will not require coverage to pay for the cost of cleaning toxic waste and chemical spills.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was finalizing a rule having to do with financial assurance or pollution cleanup insurance requirements. This decided what – if any – financial protection is required by those types of company to guarantee that if a chemical release or major toxic spill occurs, the funding to clean it is available.
The EPA chose not to make that type of coverage a requirement across multiple industries, including chemical manufacturing, coal, gas, or oil. They decided not to roll back any of the current rules but chose instead not to implement any additional requirements.
According to the EPA, the requirement of pollution cleanup insurance is an unnecessary addition.
“EPA has found that existing environmental regulations and modern industry practices are sufficient to mitigate any risks inherent in these industries,” said Andrew Wheeler, EPA Administrator.
The EPA decision is in opposition to findings previously concluded by the Obama administration, when it had been encouraging insurance requirements to avoid the need to use funds set aside for existing Superfund sites should a major spill occur. There are already over 1,300 Superfund sites across the United States.
The EPA explained that it had conducted a detailed analysis. It determined that the financial risks associated with the chemical manufacturing industry, coal power plants, and the oil and gas industry are “addressed by existing state and federal requirements to cover the costs of cleaning up possible hazardous substance releases,” said the agency.
It also pointed out that beyond research and analysis, it also took public comments into account to determine that the risk is addressed by the requirements already in place. Therefore, it stated that additional pollution cleanup insurance would not be necessary.
“The decision is a disaster for taxpayers, the environment and public health,” said Earthjustice senior counsel Lisa Evans. She stated that polluters frequently declare bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers to pay the cleaning bill.