02.03.22

Daines, Tester Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Clean Up Montana’s Abandoned Mines

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester today introduced a bipartisan bill to make it easier for “Good Samaritans” to help clean up and improve water quality in and around abandoned hardrock mines across Montana.

“My bipartisan bill will help remove obstacles to abandoned mine clean up in Montana,” Daines said. “Cutting burdensome red tape and shielding Good Samaritan organizations from liability will increase the pace and scale of reclamation and in turn, support rural Montana communities, create jobs and restore and enhance our environment."

“Montana has a long rich history of hardrock mining, but all too often abandoned mines are left untreated and aren’t reclaimed,” said Tester. “The metals and chemicals left behind by irresponsible mining companies have harmful effects on our pristine environment, and we should be helping the folks that are willing to step in and clean up. Cutting red tape on the remediation of these mines will ensure that Montana remains the Last Best Place – keeping our outdoor economy strong, and creating good paying jobs in the process.” 

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.

 

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Contact: Rachel Dumke,  Katie Schoettler