EPA Opens New Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains

EPA Opens New Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains th..

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains this week to better address the clean-up of legacy mining sites and abandoned mines across the western United States.

The new office will be located in Lakewood, Colorado, and will target multi-disciplinary issues unique to the region, assuming oversight responsibilities for hardrock mine remediation sites west of the Mississippi River. According to the EPA, the Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains will act as a contact point for states, tribes, and other federal agencies that are stakeholders in such remediation projects, and will also support conservation organizations involved in so-called Good Samaritan mine reclamation projects.


“Done are the days of a one-size-fits-all approach to remediation,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at a press conference in Colorado Springs. “The West is a special place, with special environmental challenges deserving of its own office within EPA.”

“Under President Trumps leadership, this new office will provide effective solutions, and achieve important milestones in the cleanup of hardrock mining Superfund sites in the American West as well as foster great partnerships with states, tribes, and local communities,” Wheeler said.

Native American groups also welcomed the news of a dedicated office for mine remediation.

“The Navajo people have suffered, and continue to suffer, enormous adverse impacts to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health as a result of the federal governments past investment in uranium extraction from the Navajo Nation,” said Jonathan Nez, President of the Navajo Nation in a statement. “Consequently, we support and applaud U.S. EPAs establishment of a new office within the Office of Land and Emergency Management whose primary focus will be to expedite the clean-up of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.”

Dedicated Remediation Staff

According to the EPA, the new office is the result of lessons the Agency learned at Superfund and remediation sites across the United States, such as the Silver Bow Creek Superfund site in Butte, Montana. Hardrock mining cleanup is a complex process, the Agency says, and Western mining regions have special issues and unique factors that need to be accounted for.

The Agency points out that up to now, the EPAs resources in the cleanup and remediation of hardrock mining sites had been diffused across numerous locations, which impeded the Agencys work.

According to the EPA, “Historical methods for mineral extraction and beneficiation can create environmental problems, including acid mine drainage, erosion and sedimentation, chemical releases, fugitive dust, habitat destruction, surface and groundwater contamination, and subsidence.” In addition, many sites across the Western United States do not have viable current or former owners, making it more difficult for such sites to compete with Superfund sites for funding.

Todays announcement by @EPAAWheeler shows the @EPAs commitment to the West. Now more than ever we need a strong domestic mining industry and the creation of the office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains is a great step in that direction. https://t.co/XTCPXY74Cr

— Western Caucus (@westerncaucus) Read More – Source

Share This