Trump administration withdraws Obama rule on uranium milling

Trump administration withdraws Obama rule on uranium milling
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The Trump administration announced Friday it would withdraw an Obama-era proposal aimed at regulating how waste from uranium milling is disposed.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the proposed rule for uranium and thorium mill tailings, or waste byproducts.

The Obama administration had submitted the proposed rule the day before President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE took office in January 2017.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called the now-scrapped proposal a “rush to regulate during the waning hours of the previous administration.”

“Today’s action is an important step in rebalancing EPA’s role with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s with respect to protecting public health and the environment alongside supporting modern methods of uranium extraction,” Wheeler said in a statement on Friday.


Wheeler said that the Obama-era rule “would have imposed significant burdens on uranium miners and the communities they support.”

A key point of the regulation was reducing the spread of radon, a cancer-causing radioactive gas byproduct of uranium.

The regulation aimed to create a unified standard for impounding the byproducts, which are frequently kept in holding ponds.

The EPA said it was withdrawing the rule because existing regulatory structures are considered to be sufficient.

The National Mining Association (NMA) called the decision a positive step.

“EPA’s action finalizes the withdrawal of a fundamentally flawed rule that was yet another hangover from the regulatory overreach of the prior administration,” Hal Quinn, NMA's president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Like so many other proposals from that overzealous regulatory marathon, it failed to articulate a risk that justified the rulemaking, ignored the need for a realistic cost-benefit analysis, and underestimated compliance costs and impacts to small businesses.”

In March, NMA along with The American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) jointly submitted a request to the Supreme Court asking for a review of another Obama-era blanket mining ban that prohibited uranium mining on public lands next to the Grand Canyon.

The groups challenged the Interior Department's authority to place a 20-year mining ban on the 1 million acres of public land. Earlier, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the mining groups in December, upholding the ban on mining.