KFYR-TV: Montana, North Dakota Senators call for legislation to improve cleanup of abandoned mines

by Michael Anthony

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KUMV) – Several senators including Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., are calling for a hearing to improve cleanup efforts of abandoned mines.

They say current federal law leaves nonprofit organizations that want to clean up the mines legally responsible for the pollution, even if they have made the mines safer. The bipartisan Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act would change that, creating a pilot program giving nonprofits conditional exemptions.

In a letter sent to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the senators say: “There are over 140,000 abandoned mine features on Federal, State, Tribal and private lands which pose a risk to human health and the environment, This Act begins to remove these hurdles to maximize the impact of the new abandoned hardrock mine remediation program, both on the ground and in communities.”

The legislation has been supported by both environmental groups and the mining industry such as the National Wildlife Federation and National Mining Association.

The senators are requesting the committee hold a hearing on the bill to help reclamation efforts move forward.