policy statements, and administrative interpretations, which may not be consistent over time or among offices. The Committee has reviewed several recent compilations of regulatory requirements (see Appendix C).

The implementation of regulations through permits depends on such factors as the training and experience of the permit writers, their workload and staffing levels, their specific knowledge of the proposed operations, and their interpretation of rules and policies. Similar factors may affect the quality and effectiveness of the site inspections and monitoring that determine if mining activities are in compliance with operating permits. Finally, the implementing authorities must have and be willing to use enforcement tools when noncompliance occurs. Ultimately, the adequacy of state and federal regulatory programs for protecting the environment must be measured by what happens on the ground.

In this Chapter the Committee first presents a brief discussion of the essential elements of a regulatory program. The Committee then discussed a number of issues related to the adequacy of environmental protection of hardrock mine sites. The following issues are discussed and assessed: regulatory issues; regulatory implementation issues; scientific issues; the need for early stakeholder consultation; reclamation, closure, and post-closure management; regulatory efficiency issues; and public involvement issues. The issues presented herein lead to the recommendations presented in Chapter 4.


The Committee identified the following 11 elements of an effective regulatory program:

  1. Information to describe pre-mining conditions, potential changes to the environment resulting from a project, and proposed post-mining/reclamation land use conditions;

  2. Models and tools to project and assess the consequences of these changes;

  3. Standards and criteria to determine if the changes comply with permit requirements, or are otherwise acceptable;

  4. Monitoring to demonstrate that standards and criteria are met.

  5. Reporting and analysis of the monitoring results to assess compliance with standards and criteria and trigger appropriate response to noncompliance;

  6. Appropriate responses to correct noncompliance and assure it will not reoccur;

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