Restoring Abandoned Mines: Good Samaritans or Risky Policy?

February 4, 2021 11:00 am — 12:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Public Webinar

Five years after the Gold King Mine wastewater spill, the scope of abandoned mine lands (AMLs), and the potential environmental contaminants left with them is still unknown. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) notes there may be as many as a half million AMLs, potentially affecting 110,000 miles of streams with total cleanup cost projections ranging from $50-70 billion.

Considering the prevalence of AMLs, a particular challenge lies in determining responsibility for who pays for the cleanups. While many AMLs are on federal lands, and may be the responsibility of the federal government if there is no viable private party, the government’s ability to restore these lands is often hindered by scarce resources and competing capacity to address the more than 1,300 priority Superfund sites across the United States. A potential solution is for third parties such as private industry, conservation groups, or local governments acting as a “Good Samaritans” fund to execute the restoration efforts. Currently, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Clean Water Act (CWA), third parties participating in voluntary cleanups often assume substantial risk with few incentives.

What are the opportunities and obstacles to both mitigate disincentives and broaden incentives for Good Samaritans to undertake cleanup efforts of AMLs? What are the best practices for undertaking such cleanup efforts? What steps can be implemented at the planning stage of new mines as well as end-of-life restoring to prevent environmental degradation? Join the Environmental Law Institute and expert panelists to explore the opportunities and challenges of current and future policies that can prevent further environmental degradation and remediate abandoned mines.

Nadia Burleson, Principal Engineer, President, and CEO, Burleson Consulting Inc., Moderator
John Cruden, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
Carolyn McIntosh, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs LLP
Jason Willis, Colorado AML Program Manager, Trout Unlimited
Jonathan Wood, Senior Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation

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