BHA Supports Hardrock Mine ‘Good Samaritan’ Legislation

For Immediate Release

Mar. 22, 2024 

Contact: Thomas Plank 303-720-0111, [email protected] 

BHA Supports Hardrock Mine ‘Good Samaritan’ Legislation  

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  As the leading voice for the conservation of public lands, waters, and wildlife, today Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) cheered the bipartisan introduction of the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act (H.R. 7779) in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Introduced by Reps. Celeste Maloy (R-UT) and Mary Peltola (D-AK), the bill would authorize a pilot program that allows a limited number of permits for ‘Good Samaritans’ to carry out remediation projects on abandoned mine sites. These permits would allow state agencies, local governments, and nonprofits to clean up abandoned hardrock mine sites without assuming future liability. Currently, only the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to treat discharged mine water from abandoned mine sites; ‘Good Samaritans’ would be permanently liable for the site and any remaining pollution if they cleaned up any mine waste. 

“We thank Congresswoman Maloy and Congresswoman Peltola for their introduction of the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act, which would leverage the resources of qualified private entities to clean up abandoned hardrock mine sites, the largest source of pollution on our public lands and waters,” said Patrick Berry, BHA president and CEO. “By addressing liabilities that have long tied the hands of would-be ‘Good Samaritans’ we can restore degraded watersheds and riparian habitat to enhance opportunities for hunters and anglers.” 

Original cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Susie Lee (D-NV), Blake Moore (R-UT), Jim Costa (D-CA), and John Curtis (R-UT). 

An estimated 33,000 abandoned hardrock mines sites actively contaminate our rivers and streams. An estimated 40% of Western headwaters are polluted by those mines. Hunters and anglers have long advocated for ‘Good Samaritan’ legislation to address acid mine drainage that compromises the health of public lands and waters and fish and wildlife populations. Giving willing entities the ability to restore these sites will help address the remediation of many of the thousands of smaller abandoned mines that are not a priority for the EPA. 

BHA, along with other hunting and angling groups, has repeatedly urged Congress to pass commonsense legislation that would provide a path forward for 'Good Samaritan’ entities to tackle the cleanup of these sites on public lands without assuming liabilities. Companion legislation in the Senate led by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) has been sponsored/cosponsored by 34 members, more than a third of the Senate. It was advanced by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January following a unanimous vote. 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. 

About Thomas Plank

Communications Manager for BHA

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