Environmental Clean Up

Though currently toxic, our local environmental problems could actually stimulate local jobs and growth.

Methane Emissions. The La Plata County and San Juan County NM region is the “reddest spot on the map” in the US due to our extraordinary methane emissions. We need an Apollo-like effort bringing local, state, and federal governments together with businesses and organizations to reduce emissions. Improving our regional air quality will safeguard our personal health and create potentially thousands of new jobs.

Acid mine drainage in the Animas River.

Cleaning up the abandoned mines above Silverton in order to restore the quality of the Animas River has long been a priority of mine – remember, the mines are collectively leaking more than 300 million gallons of acid into the Animas each year. Since the Gold King Mine accident, I’ve played a key role working with the EPA and upstream as well as downstream governments to address both the spill and plan for the future. I have advocated for an ongoing water quality and sediment testing and monitoring plan, a cleanup plan, and testing for a more comprehensive range of potential contaminants.

I have also called for the passage of H.R. 963, the Hardrock Mining Reform and Reclamation Act of 2015 which would create a fund to clean up abandoned and inactive mines by establishing an 8 percent royalty on all new hard-rock mines on public lands, a 4 percent royalty on existing mines on public lands and reclamation fees on all hard-rock mines, including those that were “purchased” for pennies under the 1872 Mining Law. Montana’s experience with abandoned mine restoration projects suggests that mine reclamation can create more jobs per dollar spent than mining itself.