Legislative and Regulatory Update
June 2011 by Scott Harn• More roadblocks to dredging in California
Democrats on budget committees in both the state Senate and Assembly added language to the budget bill that would place a 5-year moratorium on suction gold dredging unless all impacts of suction dredging are fully mitigated and a new fee structure is in place to fully cover all program costs. The wording would prevent the Department of Fish & Game from spending any funds on dredge regulations and permitting, and would only authorize DFG expenditures related to enforcement and litigation.
It would be impossible to mitigate all aspects of suction dredging—the DFG included items like noise and aesthetics for which there is no mitigation.
If the budget bill passes with this wording included and it is signed by Governor Brown, it would bring the current process of developing revised regulations to a halt.
It may be that Democratic legislators in California have no clue that suction dredgers contribute well over $100 million to the state economy. However, it’s more likely that they don’t care and are beholden to the environmental interests and their money.
We have two suggestions: Contact your legislators and let them politely know how the moratorium on suction dredging is hurting the economy and how it affects your personal spending. In addition, if you are sending a letter to a Republican legislator, ask them to place holds on Democratic bills and initiatives until the suction dredging language is removed from the budget bill.
• Two Oregon Sheriffs challenge Forest Service authority
Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer and Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson both sent letters to the Forest Service expressing their frustrations with how the Service deals with public lands issues, including mining-related issues.
“Regarding the pending cooperative policing agreement between the US Forest Service and the Grant County Sheriff, I am advising you in writing that I will not be signing the agreement. I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the people I serve or the Grant County Sheriff’s Office to continue with the agreement,” said Palmer.
Sheriff Gilberston has had many meetings with the Southwest Oregon Mining Association over the property rights of miners and undue harassment by Forest Service law enforcement officers.
“... it is still the responsibility of this Office to deal with all crimes committed within this geographical jurisdiction. To be clear on my side, I will not abrogate the duties and responsibility of law enforcement within this county,” wrote Gilbertson.
It’s refreshing to learn that these sheriffs are taking the lead in the protection of miner’s rights.
• Gold is money
Legislators in South Carolina have proposed a bill to make gold and silver an alternative currency to the US Dollar in their state.
The House version of the bill states it would “amend the code of laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Article 18 to Chapter 1, Title 1 so as to provide that gold or silver coin, or both, shall be legal tender in this State for payment of certain debts; and by adding Article 26 to Chapter 1, Title 1 so as to establish a joint committee for the adoption of an alternate form of currency.”
A similar bill is under consideration by the South Carolina Senate.
South Carolina is following in the footsteps of Utah, which already approved gold and silver as legal tender. Eleven other states are considering similar bills.
• Oregon's attack on suction gold dredging
• New DOI Director nominated
• More Forest Service restrictions in the works
• California suction gold dredging
“The evidence is clear—mineral deposits alone are not enough to attract precious commodity investment dollars...”
Many of you are aware that we have been engaged in litigation with anti-mining activists that have been attacking us through the Karuk Tribe of California since 2003. It all started with their lawsuit against the US Forest Service (USFS), challenging that District Rangers do not have the authority to allow small-scale mining activities under a Notice of Intent (NOI) when the Ranger concludes that the mining activity is not likely to create a substantial surface disturbance.
Judge Ochoa went so far as to call the California permit scheme “unenforceable.”
Federal and state regulatory agencies often cite mercury and methyl mercury in our waterways as a major factor for further restrictions on placer mining, and on suction gold dredge mining, in particular. However, these regulatory agencies are minimizing selenium and its neutralizing effects.
Washington’s decision to bar new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and other federal policies on energy and resource issues are barriers holding back Arizona and its residents from prosperity, Governor Jan Brewer told a congressional hearing March 16.
The Bawl Mill • Dredge Mining—Current Situation in Idaho • Fault Zones and Prospects • What Are Those Rocks In My Pan? • "Gold Rush: Alaska" in the Porcupine Mining District • Wyoming's Billion Dollar Nugget—The Trilogy Ends • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes & Mineral and Metal Prices