Senate ‘Good Samaritan’ Bill Would Facilitate Cleanup of Abandoned Mines

News for Immediate Release
Feb. 3, 2022
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act was long requested by hunters and anglers invested in restoring important lands and waters

WASHINGTON – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers applauded legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate today that would facilitate the cleanup of abandoned hardrock mines.  

Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act, which would enable interested entities to propose cleanup projects of mining sites that impact public lands, waters and fish and wildlife resources without assuming liabilities. Original cosponsors of the bill include Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

This legislation would authorize a pilot program that allows for a total of 15 permits to carry out Good Samaritan remediation projects on abandoned hardrock mine sites over the next seven years. Currently, only the EPA has the authority to treat discharged mine water from abandoned mine sites. Without these proposed permits, Good Samaritan entities wishing to clean up mining sites are permanently liable for the site and any remaining pollution. Granting these entities the opportunity to restore abandoned sites will help address remediation of many of the thousands of smaller abandoned mine sites that are not a priority for the EPA.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney thanked the Senate members who led introduction of the bill, stressing that the legislation has broad support within the hunting and angling community:

“For too long, abandoned hardrock mines have compromised the health of our public lands and waters and fish and wildlife populations,” Tawney said. “Worse, advocates invested in the conservation of these resources – and who are willing to roll up their sleeves and restore habitat – have had no path forward.

“The Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act takes specific, actionable steps toward addressing the problem of cleaning up these abandoned mines,” continued Tawney. “It would help conservation organizations, businesses and others contribute to restoration activities without assuming costly liabilities. And it would offer interested entities a clear avenue to improve our shared natural resources and cherished landscapes.

“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks our Senate leaders for pioneering a thoughtful legislative solution to this longstanding problem,” Tawney concluded. “The legislation introduced today would not only secure the future of critical Western water resources; it also would improve habitat for fish and wildlife – all while generating new jobs and establishing a new benchmark for the stewardship of our public lands and waters.”

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for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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About Katie McKalip