After unveiling S. 2254, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015, during a teleconference, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) delivered a Senate floor speech on the bill to reform the nation’s antiquated hardrock mining laws. Senator Heinrich joined U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in introducing the bill yesterday.
The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 will ensure mining companies pay royalties for the privilege of extracting mineral resources from public lands. The bill helps ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines, many of which are continuously leaking toxic chemicals into rivers and streams and have the potential for catastrophic disasters like the recent Gold King Mine blowout. The Gold King Mine accident spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and communities in New Mexico and Colorado are still struggling to recover from the impact to businesses and farms.