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Chair, Ranking Member of U.S. House Judiciary Committee Urge DOJ to do 'Careful Study' of Environmental Record of Vedanta/Sterlite, Other Would-Be Buyers of ASARCO
Date:7/10/2008

aware of whether bidders who competed with Sterling USA before ASARCO's board and their affiliates have environmental records better than, similar to, or worse than Vedanta's. Further, we understand that environmental concerns are implicated, not only by what entity assumes control of ASARCO's assets, but by such other factors as delays in the resolution of ASARCO's Chapter 11 case and delays in plan distributions. Thus, Vedanta's environmental record is not the only environmental factor that the Department confronts as it conducts its representation of the United States in the ASARCO bankruptcy.

We expect the Department to consider appropriately all of the environmental considerations posed by ASARCO's case. Based on recent events in the matter, however, we are not yet sure that the Department is adequately doing so. For example, at a recent hearing held in the ASARCO case before the United States Bankruptcy Court, in which the Sterlite USA and Vedanta issues were presented, an attorney for the Justice Department explained that 'the environmental laws are less strict abroad so we think they're of limited value in determining what the record of compliance would be in the United States.' He added, 'and given the disparity in the bids we think that it was not a dispositive disqualifying factor.' This statement may reflect an attempt to summarize the Department's efforts to assess all of the relevant environmental factors, but we cannot be sure.

Given the considerable federal liabilities associated with ASARCO based on its involvement with contaminated sites, and in light of the above, we believe that Vedanta's environmental track record overseas, as well as all relevant environmental factors bearing on the ASARCO bankruptcy, should be carefully studied before the Department adopts a final position on whether Sterlite USA or any other bidder should be allowed to acquire ASARCO's assets in the United States.

In addition, we ask that you explain in w
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SOURCE U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary
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