DENVER – A bill to make clean water in Colorado a priority passed the Rural Affairs and Agricultural committee Monday.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Barbara McLachlan and Representative Dylan Roberts, looks to help prevent water pollution from future hardrock mining operations in the state.
“Mining is central to Colorado’s history and always has been,” Rep. Roberts said. “However, our state’s clean water must be a high priority. This bill ensures that protecting our state’s precious water resources from high risks of pollutions is a top priority for future hardrock mining permits.”
Mining operations have polluted over 1,600 miles of Colorado rivers and streams.
Colorado is one of seven states that allows “self-bonding,” which allows mines to operate with insufficient recoverable assets, leaving taxpayers vulnerable to potential cleanup costs.
“When there are mining accidents, taxpayers foot the bill and also suffer the consequences of the damage to the environment,” said Rep. McLachlan, whose district was impacted by the 2015 Gold King Mine spill.
The bill would end self-bonding for hardrock mines in Colorado and would explicitly include water quality protection. It would also require mining license applications to set an end date for the cleanup of their operation.
The bill passed the committee 7-4 and is headed to the House floor.