New EPA Interpretation May Yield Higher Water Quality via Mine Cleanup Efforts

There are about 7,300 abandoned hard-rock mines in Colorado and a large percentage of them now drain toxic substances. One local example is the Animas River. Clean up efforts are difficult, however, due to a slew of legal issues. Therefore, it comes as good news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a new interpretation of policy to help improve water quality through mining cleanup. According to a recent Durango Herald article and in a call with news media, U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) announced that the EPA would loosen restrictions on ‘Good Samaritans’ looking to clean up abandoned hard-rock mines throughout the West. Under the new policy, Good Samaritan agreements with the EPA can include an extended legal liability time period. Good Samaritans also do not need to provide a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup under the new policy.