Following a column from Gwen Lachelt, a La Plata County commissioner in Colorado, calling for stricter legislation on modern mining operations, the Colorado Mining Association (CMA) recently slammed her arguments, calling instead for Good Samaritan legislation.
The column is a response to the causes and effects of the Gold King Mine spill, which released waters laced with heavy metals into the Animas river. The CMA said Lachelt’s column does not take into account the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in the release, which occurred during inspection activities.
Furthermore, the CMA emphasizes the regulations under which current mining operations are conducted, which cover their activities from commencement to mine closure. These laws provide for environmental protection and include assurance measures such as bonds that are significant enough to cover restoration costs.
While these regulations are now in place for modern mining operations, there were no environmental laws during the late 1800s and early 1900s, when many mines, including the Gold King Mine, were operational. The CMA argues that placing more regulations on modern mines will do little to address these existing issues. Instead, the organization is pushing for Good Samaritan legislation and the removal of disincentives in federal laws so that mining companies can build on previous partnerships with states and conservation groups to address sites in need of restoration.