Gwen Lachelt’s column not only fails to mention EPA’s role in causing the Animas River spill, her call for yet even more burdensome rules on modern mining operations would do nothing to remedy the problems of abandoned sites. The Gold King Mine operated, like many others, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an era when there were no environmental laws in place. By contrast, today’s mines operate under robust laws ensuring the protection of the environment from the commencement of operations through mine closure, with bonds sufficient to cover restoration costs.
If EPA’s actions in causing the spill prove anything, it’s that taxpayer dollars alone won’t solve the problem. Mining companies have launched partnerships with states and conservation groups to help conduct needed restoration of many sites. But more is needed. Congress should pass Good Samaritan legislation, remove the disincentives in federal law to such projects, and let states and the private sector tackle abandoned mine clean up head-on.