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U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, sent a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson today seeking clarification on the EPA’s ability to facilitate third-party “Good Samaritan” cleanups of critical watersheds contaminated by hard-rock mining.
In the last 15 years, Washington lawmakers have introduced no fewer than 10 pieces of so-called Good Samaritan legislation-- the majority of those laws introduced by Colorado legislators. The legislation is designed to provide legal protection for groups who take it upon themselves to clean up toxic waste. In Colorado, that means cleaning up acid mine drainage. Why has none of the legislation passed? Good Samaritan groups say the most stringent opponents include major environmental groups with Washington lobbyists.
LEADVILLE — It’s a fall morning in the mountains just outside this Lake County town. Contractors in yellow earthmovers are cleaning up acid mine drainage in the Sugarloaf Mining District. They're part of a unique government-nonprofit-college collaboration that has made great strides in improving water quality in the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River. Everyone involved in this feel-good project, however, is a target of potential lawsuits under the Clean Water Act.