Western Governors Call on Congress to Protect Water

Western governors are asking Congress to pass legislation that would assist states and other entities cleanup abandoned mines that impair water quality and often pose a safety hazard because of their open shafts.

The Western Governors' Association commended Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Steve Pearce (R-NM) for sponsoring the "Good Samaritan Cleanup of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act of 2007" and urged Congress to enact it. A letter endorsing the bill was signed by Govs. Janet Napolitano (Ariz.); Bill Ritter (Colo.); Bill Richardson (N.M.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.).

"The Western Governors have consistently identified Good Samaritan legislation as one of our high priorities regarding water quality, as abandoned and inactive mines are responsible for many of the greatest threats and impairments to water quality across the Western United States," the governors said. "Your legislation will provide states and other possible Good Samaritans important Clean Water Act liability protections necessary to conduct voluntary cleanups. These protections will result in cleanups of historic mining impacts across the West while assuring that the cleanups continue to protect and improve the environment."

The governors said a legislative fix is needed to address the legal uncertainties for Good Samaritans, even though EPA addressed some liability issues as recently as June.

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