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Colorado lawmakers aim to create a good samaritan program under the Clean Water Act for abandoned mine cleanups

Bipartisan push could speed remediation projects

Pennsylvania Mine, Summit County Colorado.

The abandoned Pennsylvania Mine is the source of heavy metal pollution in Peru Creek and the Snake River. bberwynphoto.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A few months after the EPA unveiled new regulatory guidance for abandoned mine remediation, a bipartisan pair of Colorado lawmakers launched a new push to speed cleanups.

The new law proposed by Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton would give Good Samaritan groups additional binding legal safeguards they need to remediate the sites and clean up tainted streams. There are more than 7,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites located in Colorado and thousands more throughout the West.

“Runoff from abandoned mines throughout Colorado and the West threaten our water quality, wildlife and local economies. This common-sense, bipartisan legislation will further unleash so-called Good Samaritan groups and allow them to help address this problem,” Udall said.

“It’s a good thing for all of us when mining companies and local conservation groups want to make an effort to cleanup abandoned mine pollution. This is something that the federal government should be encouraging, not restricting by putting up hurdles to those willing to do the needed work,” Tipton said.

The Udall-Tipton bill, would:

  • Create a new program under the Clean Water Act to help promote the Good Samaritan efforts of those who have no legal responsibility for abandoned hard rock mines by allowing them to qualify for cleanup permits.
  • Provide some liability protections for those who complete volunteer cleanups of abandoned mine sites pursuant to pre-approved restoration plans.
  • Allow the EPA, state government or tribal governments to issue permits for cleanups.
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