Bill by Sen. Mark Udall facilitates cleanup of old mines by citizen groups

By Michael Riley The Denver Post

Udall's bill would streamline the permitting process for groups who otherwise would have to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act to clean up an old mine — a process that can sometimes take years — while also shielding those groups from liability for not completing the job to exacting federal standards.

While the idea is supported by groups such as Trout Unlimited, it is opposed by some major environmental groups that believe it would make the Clean Water Act a target for lawmakers who want to weaken the landmark legislation.

"There are some groups that are of the opinion that we can't touch the Clean Water Act because if we do, by God, it will be eviscerated in the Congress. I think that is a playing-not-to- lose offense," according to Chris Wood, chief operating officer of Trout Unlimited.