Senate Passes Kelly and Lummis’ Bipartisan Bill to Improve Cleanup of Abandoned Hardrock Mines

Senators introduced their legislation last month

This week, the Senate unanimously passed the Legacy Mine Clean Up Act 2024, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) to hold the federal government accountable for improving the cleanup of abandoned hardrock mines that endanger the health and safety of Arizona communities.    

Kelly and Lummis’ bill would establish the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Mountains, Deserts, and Plains to help accelerate cleanup of abandoned mine sites by implementing best practices, improving coordination with state and tribal partners, and maintaining a list of mine sites to prioritize for superfund cleanup. 

“The passage of our bipartisan bill underscores the broad support in the Senate to address a health threat Arizona communities and tribal nations have undeservingly faced for decades,” Kelly said. “Our legislation will cut through red tape and create additional accountability to accelerate the cleaning of abandoned hardrock mines, effectively mitigating a huge environmental threat so families can thrive.”  

“Rather than embracing this administration’s ill-fitted, one-size-fits-all approach to governing, we must embrace tailored solutions that best suit the west and its specific needs,” Lummis said. “Resurrecting this office ensures states, tribes and localities familiar with our unique ecosystem have a seat at the table, and I am thrilled the Senate passed this important legislation.” 


The Government Accountability Office estimates there are at least 140,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the United States, largely in the western United States. This includes more than 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. Abandoned hardrock mines jeopardize the health and well-being of nearby communities through environmental hazards like acid mine drainage, chemical releases, and surface and groundwater contamination.   

In 2022, Kelly helped pass the ADVANCE Act, which directed funding to the Environmental Protection Agency for the cleanup of abandoned mine sites on Tribal land. Previously, Kelly 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 these issues with administration officials repeatedly. 

Click here to read the bill text.