Legislative and Regulatory Update
March 2008 by Scott Harn• Senate looks at HR 2262
As we previously reported, the House passed the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act (HR 2262) on November 1, 2007. HR 2262 would impose an 8 percent gross royalty on new mines, a 4 percent gross royalty on existing mines, give regulatory agencies the authority to reject proposed mines, and authorize citizen lawsuits, among other things.
The Senate held its first hearing on the bill on January 24, 2008. Stakeholders from both sides presented their views. It’s unclear at this juncture whether the Senate will start with HR 2262 and make changes or draft their own version from scratch.
• Washington Gold & Fish rules
The debate continues in Washington over gold mining regulations. After countless meetings between stakeholders, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife tried to force severe restrictions on gold miners and prospectors without the science to back up their position. The miners felt betrayed.
WDFW based their new restrictions on water temperature without citing scientific evidence to support their conclusions. As expected, the miners were upset with the agency and made their opinions known at several public hearings. The remaining scheduled hearings were canceled and everything has ground to a halt.
The Habitat division of WDFW issued a statement that acknowledged there was "significant discontent about the proposed rules not only among members of the prospecting community, but also among those prospectors that sat on the workgroup.
Prospectors have expressed significant dissatisfaction with proposed work windows, numerous specific work requirements, and in the rule development process itself. Because of this, Habitat Program is delaying presentation of the proposed rules to the Commission until outstanding issues can be resolved."
You can view the proposed rules by clicking on Pending Rules & Regulations under the Resources tab on our website. (Note: The prosposed rules were removed from the WDFW website. For the current rules, see wdfw.wa.gov/habitat/goldfish/)
In the meantime, constructive comments will still be accepted. Comments can be mailed to Lisa Wood, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA 98501-1092; faxed to Lisa Wood at (360) 902-2946; or emailed to SEPADesk@dfw.wa.gov
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