Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper joined U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to reintroduce the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act. This legislation would make it easier for “Good Samaritans”, such as state agencies, local governments, nonprofits, and other groups, to clean up and improve water quality in and around abandoned hardrock mines.
“Thousands of abandoned mines in Colorado and across the American West threaten our watersheds and pollute our ecosystems,” said Bennet. “This bipartisan legislation will make it easier for our state, local governments, and nonprofits to clean up these mines, help reduce pollution, and improve water quality.
“Abandoned hardrock mines pose alarming risks to our water supplies and soil quality,” said Hickenlooper. “Cutting red tape so good faith actors can clean up these sites is a no-brainer.”
“We have Good Samaritans ready to clean up abandoned mines that are threatening our communities through the land, water, fish, and wildlife they rely on,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Risch to create a path for Good Samaritan groups to clean up these sites in New Mexico and across the country.”
“For far too long, we have prevented commonsense environmental improvements from taking place at long-abandoned hardrock mines because we place significant liability risk on the good faith actors who want to clean them up,” said Risch. “I’m proud to introduce legislation with Senator Heinrich to support true Good Samaritans who want to address water quality issues and allow this important work to go forward.”
Thousands of abandoned hardrock mines across the country pose environmental hazards. “Good Samaritan” organizations with no legal or financial responsibility to an abandoned mine want to volunteer to remediate some of these mines, but liability rules would leave these organizations legally responsible for all pre-existing pollution from those mines. The Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act creates a pilot permitting program to enable cleanup to move forward while ensuring these Good Samaritans have the resources to comply with federal oversight. This program is aimed at lower-risk projects that will improve water and soil quality or otherwise protect human health.
Bennet introduced earlier versions of this legislation with colleagues in 2013 and in 2016 following the Gold King Mine spill. In 2019, Bennet introduced the Hardrock Mining Reform Act to modernize our nation’s outdated hardrock mining laws and clean up abandoned mines and reintroduced an updated version with Heinrich and several colleagues.
The text of the bill is available HERE.