Hearings - Statement
 
Statement of David Vitter
Hearing: Full Committee
Oversight Hearing to Consider Whether Potential Liability Deters Abandoned Hard Rock Mine Clean-Up
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I want to thank you Mr. Chairman and the Ranking Member for this hearing on a very important issue. I want to thank our colleagues for their work on the issue and for testifying today, and certainly the EPA Administrator.

 

This is an important issue because thousands of rivers and streams are impacted by acid mine discharge, and many, many sites have to be cleaned up. Most of these mines were developed and abandoned long before modern environmental laws were enacted. While those environmental laws have contributed greatly to the restoration of our environment, they are not perfect and in small ways may be negatively impacting the ability to clean up these sites. As the witnesses will point out in their testimony today, no amount of money will be enough to restore all of the possible 500,000 sites that may need mitigation. Liability is obviously a major factor in the inability to address abandoned mines.

I would hope that we all bring the spirit of common sense and unity of purpose to this discussion, and I would hope it would be virtually beyond debate that we want to encourage good samaritans to help with the cleanup. We certainly do not want to saddle good samaritans with liability for pollution they had nothing to do with producing; that would not encourage efforts to address these sites. It is time for Congress to address the liability concerns of municipalities and other good samaritans so that we can restore these thousands of waterbodies and improve water quality. That should be a very common sense, straight forward principle.

I think if we all focus on that common sense principle and work out reasonable legislation, we can achieve an important result. I encourage that spirit. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today and working with the Committee to seek to provide liability relief to good samaritans. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

 

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