Legislative and Regulatory Update
July 2013 by Scott Harn• Hearing date moved up for preliminary injunction for California suction dredging
The motion for a preliminary injunction has been moved up by one day to July 23, 2013, at 8:30am in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court, 8303 Haven Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730. The hearing will be in front of Judge Gilbert G. Ochoa in Department R8. A strong turnout of miners would be helpful.
Please Note: The case was consolidated with another case and the hearing date is now set for August 27, 2013. (See August 2013 Legislative Update for further details.)
Meanwhile, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) has proposed an “emergency rule” to close a “loophole” in the state’s suction gold dredging regulations. The agency said that they’re aiming to prevent miners from using motorized suction equipment to gather material for later processing.
At the request of the Environmental Law Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity, CDFW proposed changing the definition of suction dredging from “the use of a motorized suction system to vacuum material from the bottom of a river, stream or lake and to return all or some portion of that material to the same river, stream or lake for the extraction of minerals” to “the use of a suction system to vacuum material from a river, stream or lake for the extraction of minerals.”
CDFW stated they expected to publish the proposed emergency rule on June 17, to be followed by a five-day comment period. The Western Mining Alliance protested the action and has contacted several legislative members and attorneys for assistance.
The relevant section of the California Government Code states, “A finding of emergency based only upon expediency, convenience, best interest, general public need, or speculation, shall not be adequate to demonstrate the existence of an emergency. If the situation identified in the finding of emergency existed and was known by the agency adopting the emergency regulation in sufficient time to have been addressed through non-emergency regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of Article 5 (commencing with Section 11346), the finding of emergency shall include facts explaining the failure to address the situation through non-emergency regulations.”
CDFW acknowledged they had been considering the proposed rule since early March 2013, which allowed them plenty of time to address the issue without designating it as an emergency.
On June 18, the proposed emergency rule was published by the the California Office of Administrative Law. Check the “Recent News” section of our website for additional updates.
• Anti-mining bills in Oregon lead to recall effort
Anti-mining bills in Oregon—SB 115, SB 370, SB 401, and SB 838—are still active, but no recent action has been taken by legislators.
The bills would place numerous waterways off-limits, raise fees for some types of mining, and outlaw the use of motorized equipment in many types of placer operations.
Kerby Jackson, head of Oregon’s Galice Mining District, stated his group is not waiting for the bills to be enacted. The Galice Mining District has petitioned the federal district court to hear a lawsuit over the proposed bills.
The main culprit behind many of the anti-mining bills is Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland). A recall drive is now underway, spearheaded by long-time gold miner and timber worker Rick Barclay.
Barclay is collecting signatures from registered voters in Oregon’s Senate District 3, which includes Jacksonville, Talent, Medford, Ashland, Phoenix and additional portions of Jackson County. If you are a registered voter in Senate District 3, please stop by Black Cat Mining in Medford or Armadillo Mining Shop in Grants Pass to sign the recall petition.
A two-pronged approach is necessary to restore suction dredging; federal preemption needs to be established as addressed above via petition; and clarification from the EPA is needed to establish that no Section 402 permit is necessary when there is no “addition” of a pollutant.
• US Supreme Court may consider requirements for Notitce of Intent
• Oregon considering mining restrictions
• Latest developments in California suction dredging moratorium
• Spotted owl habitat
There are some miners who are under the impression that an organized Mining District will immediately get the regulatory agencies off their backs so they can start digging or dredging again.
Republican legislators say the funding is necessary to protect state interests...
• Anti-dredging bill SB 637 passes
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.
• Idaho continues toward elimination of EPA suction dredging regulations
• EPA makes preemptive strike against Alaska mine
• Proposed Mines Act permit fees
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