Sen. Kelly’s Bipartisan Bill to Clean Up Abandoned Uranium Mines on Tribal Land Passes Committee Vote
Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed key portions of Arizona Senator Mark Kelly’s Legacy Mine Cleanup Act, which would dedicate $100 million in funding to clean up abandoned mines on tribal land. Kelly’s legislation passed out of committee as part of the bipartisan Accelerating Deployment of Versatile Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act, which will preserve and expand use of nuclear energy to tackle climate change and achieve energy independence. Kelly is also an original cosponsor of the ADVANCE Act.
“For far too long, Arizona tribal communities have suffered serious health and environmental consequences from abandoned uranium mines,” said Senator Kelly. “We must do more to protect the health and safety of our tribal communities, and that starts with ensuring the resources needed to clean up these hazardous sites are available.”
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. Legacy mines can pose threats to nearby communities and the environment through acid mine drainage, erosion and sedimentation, chemical releases, and surface and groundwater contamination. While existing law creates a process for these mine sites to be cleaned up, too often inadequate funding and bureaucratic red tape create delays, jeopardizing the health and safety of tribal communities.
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.