Sen. Gardner, Tribe discuss Good Samaritan bill

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner poses with Tribal Council Lady Amy J. Barry, along with the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner talks with Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council about the Good Samaritan bill on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the Southern Ute Growth Fund.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum


Since the Gold King Mine spill last August, the clean up of waste and mines has been a top priority for many. This past week U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner met with Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council to discuss a bill that would help clean up abandoned mines; the Good Samaritan bill.

The draft legislation, Good Samaritan Cleanup of Samaritan Orphan Mines Act, would allow third party organizations the opportunity to clean up abandoned mines sites that are contaminating the environment across the United States. If the bill passes it would allow interested organizations to apply for a permit with the state, tribes, or EPA, which would offer some liability protection in mine cleanups. Good Samaritans would be held liable if they do not follow the terms laid out in the permit.

“The support that you have offered for [the bill] and the changes you have suggested are critically important,” Gardner said.

Gardner emphasized the importance of the bill mentioning that Superfund dollars are getting harder to come by due to a decrease in funding and the increase of sites being added to the Superfund list.

“Lets not forget what happened and lets make sure we’re putting something in place that can start addressing this environmental ticking time bomb that we have,” Gardner said referencing the abandoned mines in the state.

Southern Ute Councilman, James M. Olguin brought up the importance of the Ute Tribes’ involvement.

“Historically those were our homelands,” Olguin said. “This water shed has a very significant meaning to the Utes, so we have to do everything we can to protect it.”

Southern Ute Tribal Chairman, Clement J. Frost encouraged Gardner to reach out to more tribes by presenting the bill to the National Congress of American Indians for support.

“I think it’s important for tribes to be consulted with at all times. When it’s going to have an impact on them, their land, their water resources, and air; they need to be notified,” Frost said.

Once the suggested changes from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Tribes are made to the draft legislation, the bill will be sent back to the two tribes to make sure the bill fully addresses their concerns.




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