Legislative and Regulatory Update
April 2014 by Scott Harn• Idaho continues toward elimination of EPA suction dredging regulations
On March 13, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee held another hearing on whether or not to eliminate Environmental Protection Agency authority in the state.
Following the hearing, which included the testimony of numerous suction gold dredge miners, no opposing testimony and 76 supporters who signed their names in support, the committee passed House Bill 473.
The bill declares EPA authority would be “null and void and of no force and effect in this state.”
The bill now heads to the full Idaho House of Representatives for debate and a possible vote.
• EPA makes preemptive strike against Alaska mine
The EPA announced they have initiated a Clean Water Act review process in an attempt to prevent the Pebble Limited Partnership from developing the Pebble Project, a mining project valued in the billions of dollars in southern Alaska.
The EPA is taking this step even though no Plan of Operations has been submitted.
• Proposed Mines Act permit fees
The British Columbia (Canada) Ministry of Energy and Mines is proposing charging Mines Act permit fees for all mines in the province.
The proposed fees are as follows:
$2,000 for small-scale placer and mineral/coal exploration disturbing less than 1 hectare
$4,000 for medium-scale placer and mineral/coal exploration disturbing less than 3 hectares
$6,000 for large-scale placer and mineral/coal exploration disturbing 3 hectares or more
$4,000 for sand and gravel operations
$5,000 for custom mills
$6,000 for rock and industrial mineral quarries
$40,000 for all operations requiring a review under Section 9 of the Mines Act
$300,000 for large-scale major mines, expansions, and permit amendments
$100,000 for major mines, expansions and permit amendments
$10,000 for minor permit amendments to major mines
Unfortunately, the notice from the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines states that comments would only be accepted through March 31, 2014—leaving little or no time to notify ICMJ readers. However, we posted this information to our website at www.icmj.com on March 16 in an effort to notify those miners who might wish to send in comments.
The $800 million project will provide 300 jobs during production. It will be the only US mine where nickel is the primary targeted mineral, with about 360 million pounds to be extracted.
- Interior Department reigns in “sue and settle”
- Comments needed on Forest Service Part 228 regulations
• Salazar pushes wilderness
• California Governor signs AB 120
- Bill to limit Antiquities Act
- PLF seeks relief from Endangered Species Act abuses
Representative Paul Shepherd stopped by, and Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik dove with one of the dredgers so he could see for himself that no harm was being done to fish or their habitat.
The Senator’s office was very receptive to the small miner’s plight and was unaware of the dire problems created by the over-regulation of small-scale mining from so many different fronts. It was pointed out that S 145 may help the large mining companies a little, but falls woefully short in addressing the needs of small operators who make up 85% of domestic mines.
• Battle continues in Oregon
• Stop annexation in Southern California
• EPA ignores Supreme Court ruling with new Idaho permit
• Alaska sues Feds to restore access rights
• California dredgers await next big court date
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