Good Samaritan Cleanup Bill Draws Bipartisan Support from Congress

Legislation providing liability protection to watershed groups and other “community re-claimers” is gaining traction in Congress. H.R. 2937, which was introduced by Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), gives states the primary responsibility for developing and implementing regulations for surface mining operations. The bill has received strong support from both sides of the political aisle.

The proposed legislation would amend the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to authorize partnerships between state and non-government agencies for reclaiming and restoring land and water resources that have been adversely affecting by coal mining activities.

Under the current system, states apply for Federal grants in order to perform reclamation clean-up of abandoned mine lands. According to the Federal Office of Surface Mining, more than $10 billion of work remains to be done. H.R. 2937 would encourage “Good Samaritan” groups or “Community Re-claimers” to aid in the cleaning up without indefinitely incurring legal responsibility for AMLs and treatment liabilities from AML discharges.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection is supporting the legislation. In May of this year, DEP Deputy Secretary John Stefanko testified before the House Natural Resources Committee. In his testimony, Stefanko described the circumstances surrounding the issue and the need for this relief. The DEP believes the legislation is necessary for a successful state level Good Samaritan program in Pennsylvania.

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