(April 11) – A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, to fund cleanups at legacy mining sites in Colorado passed the House on second reading this morning.
“This bill allows for funding in any emergency situation at a legacy mine site,” said Rep. Hamner, who shares prime sponsorship of the bill with Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. “This is an important step to ensure we can take care of hazardous conditions at mining sites and protect our environment and public safety.”
Currently, the Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety in the Department of Natural Resources only has access to funds from the Emergency Response Cash Fund if the site is subject to the division’s regulatory authority. HB16-1276 authorizes the use of these funds any time hazardous circumstances exist at a legacy mine site.
Legacy sites are hard rock mining operations that were abandoned prior to July 1, 1976, and there is no continuing responsibility for reclamation under state or federal laws.
The bill comes after a devastating spill at the Gold King Mine near Silverton that sent millions of gallons of toxic wastewater in to the Animas River. This mining site is just one of hundreds in the state that have been abandoned but still pose threats to public health and Colorado’s natural environment. This bill will allow for cleanups at sites that are not designated as Superfund sites.
The voice-vote approval sends the bill to a third reading.