State environmental regulators are banking on a pledge from petroleum giant BP to expedite cleanup of an abandoned Nevada mine without the teeth of the U.S. Superfund law typically used to force responsible parties to pay for remediation at sites so big and badly polluted.
Gov. Brian Sandoval says a new agreement with Atlantic Richfield Co., a BP subsidiary that owns part of the former Anaconda Copper mine, will speed the cleanup of a toxic stew brewing for decades at the site in Yerington.
As a result, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an agreement this week to defer any potential priority Superfund listing for at least four years.
Critics say abandoning the Superfund path lets the corporations off the hook for more than $100 million in cleanup costs they're ultimately responsible for.