Tipton, Udall Introduce Legislation to Further Help Private Groups Clean Abandoned Mines, Protect Colorado Water

In an effort to speed the cleanup of abandoned mines throughout Colorado, Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton introduced bipartisan legislation today to give Good Samaritan groups additional binding legal safeguards they need to remediate the sites and keep Colorado's streams and water clean. There are more than 7,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites located in Colorado and thousands more throughout the West.

"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. "We're looking to provide momentum to these important efforts by removing existing hurdles that discourage Good Samaritan groups from cleaning up Colorado's abandoned mines and providing our communities and environment with a valuable service."

"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. "A policy the EPA unveiled last year as a result of my leadership took a step in the right direction. This bill is the logical next step to speed the cleanup of these mines and address their toxic runoff."

The Udall-Tipton bill, which Sen. Michael Bennet is co-sponsoring, is similar to legislation Udall introduced in 2009. 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.

*Sent in conjunction with Sen. Mark Udall's office