On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources voted to establish the first ever dedicated program to clean up abandoned hardrock mines. This new program, proposed by Senators Heinrich (D-NM), Daines (R-MT) and Kelly (D-AZ), authorizes and appropriates $3 billion in direct grants to federal, state and Tribal governments to remediate public health, safety and environmental harms posed by abandoned hardrock mines on public and private lands. The committee added this program by amendment to the larger infrastructure legislation considered at today’s Business Meeting. According to the Government Accountability Office, there are hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines in the United States, primarily in the West. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cleanup costs for these mines at around $35 billion.
Below is a statement from Aaron Mintzes, Earthworks’ Senior Policy Counsel.
“We appreciate Mr. Heinrich’s leadership and the Senate’s focus on this important issue. This investment will help provide needed jobs transforming landscapes scared by hardrock mining into more economically and environmentally resilient land uses. Communities still live with, and pay for, this pollution left behind by mining companies. We look forward to working with Congress to strengthen this program by holding the mining industry accountable for its pollution.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Just Minerals: Safeguarding protections for community rights, sacred places, and public lands from the unfounded push for mining expansion