Letters - SundayTHE [Colorado Springs] GAZETTE December 2, 2007 - 1:22AM

Bill would shield Samaritans from pollution liability

The Gazette’s Nov. 27 story about the Pennsylvania Mine made clear why Congress should pass a liability-shield law for “Good Samaritans” seeking to clean up toxic drainages polluting Colorado’s waters (“Water act discourages any would-be helpers”).

But I think the prospects for that happening are brighter than the story suggested.

Last month, with Rep. Steve Pearce, R.-N.M., I introduced H.R. 4011, the “Good Samaritan Cleanup of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act.” Based on bills I have introduced before, it would authorize the EPA to issue permits to shield Good Samaritans from Clean Water Act liability as they work on abandoned mines such as the Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 12, our bill was endorsed by the Western Governors Association. A letter signed by the governors of Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota, as well as Gov. Bill Ritter, said the bill “will provide States and other possible Good Samaritans important Clean Water Act liability protections necessary to conduct voluntary cleanups.” I am hopeful the bill will be supported by the Bush administration and environmental groups as well.

This kind of Good Samaritan legislation has been one of my longstanding top priorities, and I intend to do all I can to win its enactment as soon as possible.

Rep. Mark Udall Colorado District 2 U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.