WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to issue long-overdue rules aimed at stopping mining companies from declaring bankruptcy to avoid pollution cleanups.

WASHINGTON (AP) The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to issue long-overdue rules aimed at stopping mining companies from declaring bankruptcy to avoid pollution cleanups.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Friday that EPA must begin the rulemaking process for the hard-rock mining industry before the end of this year. EPA was sued in 2014 by six environmental groups.

At issue is a 35-year-old edict under the federal Superfund program that requires mining companies to show they have the financial resources to cover the costs of cleaning up ongoing contamination from their operations as well as any potential spills of hazardous materials. The court said mining companies often claim insolvency rather than paying cleanup costs, sheltering profits while leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.