New Good Samaritan legislation could help with abandoned mine cleanup

by Dalton Carver

The introduction of new federal legislation in early December may help establish a pilot program encouraging the cleanup of abandoned mines in Colorado. The legislation, known as the Good Samaritan Remediation of Orphan Hardrock Mines Act of 2018, is sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-3).
Local conservation groups are taking a wait and see attitude.
The bill was referred to and reviewed by the Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources committees since its introduction Dec. 6. On Dec. 10, the bill was referred to the subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
There are an estimated 500,000 abandoned mines across the western United States, some posing danger to unaware recreationists. With so many sites and so many cleanup opportunities needed, volunteers and assistance to help with these sites are necessary to make an impact.
Previous legislation, including the assumption of long-term liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, has made it difficult for Good Samaritans to help with cleanup efforts.
Tipton and Gardner hope to change that with their December introduction of the Good Samaritan bill.
“For years I have been working on legislation to allow for the cleanup of orphan mine sites by Good Samaritans,” said Gardner. “Across Colorado and the West, we have needed a permanent solution to the dangerous problem of abandoned mines. The opportunity to clean up the environment around these sites is crucial and this pilot program will finally allow for the long overdue process to begin. I understand changes may be necessary to get this bill across the finish line, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and stakeholders to evaluate their feedback.”
Tipton cited a recent and nearby spill that made a large impact on the region as motivation for...

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