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Kelly pushes bill to streamline federal assistance in cleaning up old Arizona mines

New legislation co-introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly would have the federal government help clean up abandoned hardrock mines in Arizona. 

Kelly introduced the Legacy Mine Clean up Actwith Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. The lawmakers say if passed, it would establish an office within the EPA that would work with state and tribal partners, implement best practices and set up a priority list to accelerate mine site cleanup.

Kelly says old mines pose serious environmental and public health risks, and the process to address them is currently hampered by red tape and a lack of accountability.  

A Government Accountability Office estimate shows there are at least 140,000 abandoned hardrock mines in the U.S. — including more than 500 former uranium operations on the Navajo Nation.

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Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.