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Legislative and Regulatory Update

• Alaska Dredging Draft General Permit AKG-37-1000
The E.P.A. has released a lengthy (22-page) draft to change current dredging regulations in Alaska, "Draft General Permit AKG-37-1000." While the need to amend prior regulations may be warranted, there are some serious flaws in the proposed regulations as written.

Here are just a few of the key points:

• This permit authorizes placer mining by suction dredges with intake nozzles less than or equal to 10 inches and greater than 4 inches.

• Winches or other motorized equipment shall not be used to move boulders, logs, or other natural instream obstructions.

• No wheeled or tracked equipment may be used instream.

• Suction dredges shall not operate within 800 feet of:

a. another dredging operation occurring simultaneously or,

b. a location where it is apparent that another operation has taken place.

• Dredging of concentrated silt and clay should be avoided. The permittee shall use reasonable care to avoid dredging silt and clay materials that would result in a significant increase in turbidity. Reasonable care includes moving the dredge to a new location or reducing the volume of effiuent discharge by limiting operation speed of the suction dredge.

• Dredging is permitted only within the active stream channel. Dredging within the active stream channel that results in undercutting, littoral channeling or that otherwise results in erosion of a stream bank or a beach, is prohibited.

• Dredging and discharging are prohibited within 500 feet of locations where fish are spawning or where fish eggs or alevins are known to exist at the time dredging occurs. Each Permittee shall consult the regional office of the ADFG for the region in which the Permittee proposes to operate a dredge in order to obtain the information necessary to comply with this BMP. Each Permittee shall report the information obtained from ADFG, and the name and title of the official contacted, to EPA concurrently with the NOI.

These are just a few of the regulations that would adversely affect current and planned operations. The use of even a hand-operated winch appears to be a violation under the proposed changes. Based on the wording, it appears you cannot dredge on your own claim if someone is dredging on an adjacent claim that is within 800 feet, or in "a location where it is apparent that another operation has taken place."

So, if there is evidence that someone worked an area within 800 feet five years prior, you are prevented from starting any new dredging operations within that distance. If you happen to have a claim that covers 1600 feet, you may be prevented from working any part of it if there is evidence of prior dredging at both ends. There is no mention of time restrictions nor dredge size. If someone ran a two-inch dredge for only two days within 800 feet, you are prohibited from running your six or eight-inch dredge for an unspecified period.

I encourage you to voice your opinion regarding these vague, unreasonable and irrational rules proposed in Draft General Permit AKG-37-1000.

A public hearing is scheduled for March 7, 2000, from 6pm-9pm at the Carlson Center, Pioneer Room, 2010 2nd Ave., in Fairbanks.

Written comments can be sent to:

Director, Office of Water, US EPA
Region 10, 1200 6th Ave. OW-135,
Seattle, Washington, 9810l.

Comments must be received by March 14, 2000.


• Where the candidates stand
Washington (AP)—Even as the field of presidential candidates shrinks, the crop of policies grows.

A new day can always bring a new promise from the candidates and some gaps remain in major policy areas. But in large measure, they have weighed in on the issues that motivate them, and even some that do not.

Here are positions of Democrats Bill Bradley and AI Gore, Reform Party contender Pat Buchanan and the remaining Republicans, George W. Bush, Alan Keyes and John McCain, as they relate to the environment:

Bradley: Create $250 million annual fund for coastal protection and restoration on top of existing programs, and give states more authority to rule against harmful coastal or offshore development. Favors Kyoto treaty.

Buchanan: Give hundreds of millions of acres of land managed by Washington to states unconditionally. Prohibit designation of endangered species without vote in Congress. Opposes Kyoto treaty.

Bush: Supports the limited moratorium on California and Florida off-shore drilling. Is becoming "more convinced" global warming exists but opposes Kyoto accord. Unspecified increase in spending on conservation. In 1998 favored changing federal law to limit habitats eligible to be designated as endangered.

Gore: Ban all new offshore oil drilling in federal waters off Florida and California, including zones where companies have spent billions to secure drilling rights. Spend $2 billion over 10 years to set aside more parkland, paying for it with new mining royalties from federal lands. Defends order limiting logging in national forests. Led U.S. efforts for Kyoto treaty.

Keyes: Reduce federal regulation, make states fully compensate citizens for land regulation, promote selling of pollution credits between nations, raise federal mining royalties. Opposes Kyoto treaty.

McCain: Upgrade national parks, using public and private money to eliminate a $5 billion backlog in projects in eight years. Would rescind Clinton administration's order limiting logging in national forests. Strengthen regulation of nuclear fuel and waste. Backed stronger Clean Water Act and auto emission controls. Opposes Kyoto treaty.
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.
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