Legislative and Regulatory Update
November 2012 by Scott Harn• BLM to raise fees again
The Bureau of Land Management is again increasing the fees for processing documents associated with oil, gas, coal and solid mineral activities. The increase was published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2012.
The updated fees cover costs for actions, including lease applications, name changes, corporate mergers, and lease consolidations and reinstatements.
“It is important that the BLM continue to deliver services in the most fiscally responsible way. Adjusting cost recovery fees every year helps ensure we cover the costs of doing business,” said Acting BLM Director Mike Pool.
The BLM is authorized to charge cost recovery fees under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) and the 2005 Cost Recovery Rule. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has also directed Federal agencies to recover their costs for services.
Seven of the fee increases will amount to $5, and eight of the increases will amount to $10. The largest adjustment—$65—will be added to the fee for adjudicating more than 10 mineral patent claims and will increase the fee from $2,875 to $2,940. The fee for adjudicating 10 or fewer mineral patent claims will rise by $30—from $1,440 to $1,470.
The agency aims to implement the updated fee schedule on October 1, at the beginning of fiscal year 2012. The fees will continue to be evaluated every year thereafter.
• Roadless Rule stands
On October 1, 2012, the US Supreme Court declined to review the so-called US Forest Service’s Roadless Rule, which placed severe restrictions on 58.5 million acres of forest lands.
The decision will likely result in additional delays in the long permitting process for locatable minerals and prevent access to some remote mining claims. All requests for road access to locatable minerals in roadless areas must be approved by US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
• Suit filed over dredging restrictions in Washington State
Washington miner Bruce Beatty, represented by attorney James Buchal and with financial support from Public Lands for the People, has filed a lawsuit against the Washington Department of Fish & Game over their extremely restrictive suction dredging regulations that would have limited his dredging season to only fifteen days.
As we reported last month, James Buchal has represented miners in countless battles against overzealous regulators, and he is currently running for Attorney General of Oregon.
Thirty miners showed up to support Beatty as Buchal presented the case. The judge has not yet stated when she will issue a ruling.
• NWMA lends support
The Northwest Mining Association has filed an amicus brief in support of the New 49’ers as they make an appeal to the US Supreme Court regarding a recent ruling from the 9th Circuit.
The 9th Circuit, in a split decision, ruled that submitting a Notice of Intent to the Forest Service constitutes an “agency action” that requires Endangered Species Act consultation, which was in direct conflict with prior case law.
• California suction gold dredging lawsuits progressing
On September 28, San Bernardino County Judge Alvarez ruled that all six court cases related to suction gold dredging in California should be consolidated and heard together in San Bernardino Superior Court.
The next step is a review of this decision by the state judicial panel.
Judge Alvarez’ decision is a win for miners—over 11,000 mining claims are located in San Bernardino County, while none are found in Alameda County where the environmentalists preferred to have these cases heard.
Keep in mind that attorneys cost money, and this is another battle we can’t afford to lose. Public Lands for the People is leading this fight along with several other cases, and your financial support is paramount. Please see their ad on page 39 to find out how you can lend a hand.
- WOTUS rule finalized
- Reminder on new claim fees
• Comment period extended for frog habitat
• Tennessee permits for gold prospecting
• California dredging injunction and restraining order hearing
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.
- Zinke leaving office
- Property rights triumph over critical habitat says Supreme Court
- Water of the United States
Renewed interest in mining of gold, silver, copper and other metals in Aroostook County's Bald Mountain triggered 2012 legislation requiring the overhaul of the state's two-decade-old mining regulations.
The ESA has become an unwieldy beast that was hijacked by government agencies run amok, and by extreme environmental groups who saw it as a way to lock up public lands and to generate income through exaggerated claims and continuous lawsuits.
The Bawl Mill • Ask the Experts • Ask the Experts • Ask the Experts • Ask the Experts • The Portable XRF Gun • Gold Dredging on Oregon's South Umpqua • The Struggle to Reopen Alaska's Largest Gold Mine • Prospecting With a Detector: Lessons Learned • The Rush to Treasure Hill • Tips on Crevicing for Gold • Using Google Earth and Other Maps • Proper Assaying of Placer Samples • Mining, Health Care & Taxes • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices