Legislative and Regulatory Update
May 2012 by Scott Harn• NEDC surrenders in Oregon
The Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) has backed out of a lawsuit involving the Eastern Oregon Mining Association, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the suction dredge permit process in Oregon.
The NEDC decided to withdraw from the case rather than face discovery requests from the Eastern Oregon Mining Association and a deposition on standing.
That’s one less roadblock in the case as it moves forward. Congratulations to EOMA and attorney James Buchal.
• The California saga continues
Public Lands for the People (in conjunction with the Western Mining Alliance), the New 49’ers, and the Karuk Tribe (along with the Center for Biological Diversity) have all filed lawsuits against the State of California over the recent suction gold dredging regulations published by the California Department of Fish & Game.
In the meantime, a previous lawsuit filed by Public Lands for the People continues in San Bernardino County Superior Court. In this case, PLP is seeking an injunction against the state to get suction gold dredgers back in the water as soon as possible. Briefs from all parties are due at the end of April, and the next hearing is scheduled for early May 2012.
We can’t stress enough the importance of supporting these lawsuits. We have one shot to overturn this unlawful taking of our property rights and restore our right to mine.
PLP is supporting five lawsuits simultaneously involving the rights of miners. They don’t have big donors to support them—just us. We know times are tough for many of our readers, but we can win this with sufficient funding and PLP can seek reimbursement of attorney fees to fund future efforts.
PLP is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit, staffed by volunteers. Donations are tax-deductible. Information on PLP is available at www.plp2.org
We can either surrender or draw a line in the sand and fight to hold the remaining mining rights we still have.
You have made your presence known with the BLM or Forest Service, placed Mining District signs along the entrance points to your district, and found support with other local miners. But how do you gain popular support?
The verdict capped an unusual civil case that combined history, coin collecting and whether the $20 “double eagles” ever legally left the US Mint.
This ruling comes at an opportune time, just as suction dredge miners are dealing with new proposed regulations in several western states. Be sure to cite this case when you provide comments on the regulations!
• Sheriff withdraws Forest Service law enforcement authority
We all know that it was never Congress’ intent to regulate gold panners and other individual mine operators through MSHA. In fact, I believe the concept of owner-operated mines with no employees was so strange a concept to the lawmakers that they never even thought there would be a need for such an exemption.
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