U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester last week urged the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hold a hearing on their bipartisan bill to help clean up and improve water quality in and around abandoned hardrock mines across Montana.
“There are over 140,000 abandoned mine features on Federal, State, Tribal and private lands which pose risk to human health and the environment… Unfortunately, liability risks under the Clean Water Act, as well as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, prevent volunteer cleanup by leaving Good Samaritans legally responsible for the mine pollution, even if they have made the mines safer,” the Senators wrote.
“These permits give conditional liability relief for Good Samaritans to enable not-for- profit cleanup efforts to move forward, while ensuring Good Samaritans have the skills and resources to comply with federal oversight,” the Senators continued.
Read the full letter the Senators wrote HERE.
The “Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act” creates a pilot permitting program to enable not-for-profit cleanup efforts to move forward, while ensuring Good Samaritans have the skills and resources to comply with federal oversight. This pilot program is designed for lower risk projects which will improve water and soil quality or otherwise protect human health. For bill text, click HERE.
Montana has approximately 6,000 abandoned hardrock mines according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Organizations that have no legal or financial responsibility to an abandoned mine – true Good Samaritans – want to participate in reclamation. Unfortunately, liability and bureaucratic red-tape could leave these Good Samaritans legally liable for circumstances outside of their control, even though they had no involvement with the mine prior to cleaning it up.
The legislation has received support from Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Property and Environment Research Center, National Deer Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Mining Association, American Exploration and Mining Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, and the Outdoor Alliance.