Kelly’s Bipartisan Bill to Clean Up Abandoned Mines, Protect Clean Drinking Water Passes Committee Vote
Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act Takes Critical Step Towards Becoming Law
Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly’s Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act was passed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and is now eligible to receive a vote on the Senate floor. The bipartisan legislation would cut burdensome red tape and allow ‘Good Samaritans’ such as states, local governments, non-profits, and other groups, to clean up and improve water quality in and around abandoned mines.
“Arizona is home to thousands of abandoned hardrock mines, including many more than 500 uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. This legislation will make it easier to clean up abandoned mines that pose serious health risks to nearby communities and threaten our drinking water supply,” said Kelly.
The Government Accountability Office estimates that there are at least 140,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the U.S., largely in the West, including more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. These mines can pose threats to nearby communities and the environment through acid mine drainage, erosion and sedimentation, chemical releases, and surface and groundwater contamination.
The Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act would establish a pilot program for not-for-profits to clean up contaminated sites without being liable for pre existing pollution. In 2022, Kelly led a hearing on the legislation, which included testimony from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director, Misael Cabrera on the risks posed by abandoned mine sites to Arizona’s groundwater.
Kelly has consistently worked to secure funding for the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, championed legislation to support innovative paths to the cleanup of abandoned mine sites, and raised the issue of abandoned hardrock uranium mines with Administration officials repeatedly.