polluted water and it's yours forever - or at least the liability
is. All across the West, well-meaning citizens have shied away from
cleaning up abandoned hardrock mines and their polluted streams for
fear they could be held responsible under the Clean Water
Now, U.S. Reps. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Bob
Schaffer, R-Colo., want to amend the act to offer good Samaritans
some protection from permanent liability. In March, they introduced
a bill that would grant special permits to third parties interested
in cleaning up abandoned mines. A reclamation fee, exacted on
existing mining companies that operate on public land or that
purchased their land under the general mining laws, would pay for
"This bill is a good first step on
the road to mining law reform," says Alan Septoff of the
Washington, D.C.-based Mineral Policy Center.
mining industry says it wants in on the deal, too. Carol Ralston,
of the National Mining Association, says, due to improved
technology, mining companies can clean up abandon mines while
remining their old waste piles.
say they'll fight any attempt by industry to amend the bill.