New momentum for cleaning up mine waste pollution on America’s streams

House bill would jumpstart work by ‘Good Samaritans’ to clean up abandoned mines


ARLINGTON, Va.—Bipartisan legislation introduced today in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Celeste Maloy (R-UT) and Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK) would help drive cleanups of historic mine waste that cause chronic pollution in streams across the country.

Maloy and Peltola are joined on the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act of 2024 by U.S. Reps. Susie Lee (D-NV), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Blake Moore (R-UT). The bill is identical to “Good Sam” legislation in the Senate, S. 2781, led by U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and James Risch (R-ID), that has 32 co-sponsors and cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by unanimous consent in January.

“There is no constituency for orange, polluted rivers,” said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited president and CEO. “More than 40 percent of our western headwater streams—the places where trout live and communities get their drinking water—are negatively affected by abandoned hardrock mines. It is gratifying to see more than a bipartisan third of the U.S. Senate sponsoring legislation that would accelerate efforts by ‘Good Samaritans’ to clean up historic mine pollution. With today’s introduction of a House ‘Good Sam’ bill, we are closer than ever to advancing common-sense legislation that would help address one of the most pervasive water quality threats in America. We thank Representatives Maloy and Peltola for their leadership, and we look forward to getting this bill passed into law.”

Tens of thousands of abandoned hardrock mines cause environmental damage across the West. Drainage from these mines sends toxic metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic into our waters, contributing to water quality impairments in some 110,000 miles of streams.

But under federal law, “Good Samaritan” organizations and state agencies that want to clean up abandoned mines can face legal jeopardy for pollution they didn’t create. The Good Sam bills would create a pilot permitting program overseen by the EPA allowing qualified third parties to clean up mine waste at 15 low-risk abandoned mine sites.  Good Samaritans operating in compliance with their permit would be shielded from long-term legal and financial liability, helping to spur cleanups that improve water quality.

“Without this much-needed legislation, abandoned mines that could otherwise be cleaned up will continue polluting our environment and downstream communities,” said Corey Fisher, Public Lands Policy Director for Trout Unlimited. “Good Samaritans like Trout Unlimited and state agencies are ready to get to work making our waters cleaner. We just need a little help from Congress.” 

Learn more about Good Sam legislation and TU’s work to clean up abandoned mines at  


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.