Cleanup at Inactive and Abandoned Mines: Issues in "Good Samaritan" Legislation in the 114th Congress [November 25, 2015] [open pdf - 594KB]
"On August 5, 2015, an accidental spill from the Gold King Mine, a long-abandoned gold mine site in Colorado, released an estimated three million gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) wastewater into a tributary of the Animas River. The Colorado spill has raised interest in facilitating cleanup of legacy pollution at inactive and abandoned mine sites, especially hardrock mines such as Gold King, in order to prevent similar accidents. Several federal agencies have authority to clean up abandoned mines on public lands, but resources are limited, and most sites on private lands are not included. One approach that has drawn attention is encouraging remediation by so-called 'Good Samaritan' entities, third parties who have no history of polluting at a particular site or legal responsibility for its pollution, but who step forward to clean up AMD or other historic mine residue of pollution. Legislation to authorize Good Samaritan remediation has been introduced regularly since 1999, including H.R. 963 and H.R. 3843 in the 114th Congress. These bills propose incentives to potential Good Samaritans in the form of reduced liability from environmental laws and less stringent environmental standards for cleanup activities. Senate and House committees have held oversight hearings on the Gold King Mine spill and to review legislative responses to it, including bills that seek to overcome obstacles to potential Good Samaritans. This report discusses several issues that have drawn attention: eligibility for a Good Samaritan permit, minerals covered by a permit, standards applicable to a Good Samaritan cleanup, scope of liability protection, funding, treatment of revenues from cleanup, enforcement, the appropriate role for states and Indian tribes, terminating a permit, and sunsetting the permit program."
CRS Report for Congress, R44285
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html