Legislative and Regulatory Update
February 2019 by Scott Harn
• Oregon miners petition US Supreme Court in Bohmker v. Oregon
“Multiple states now assert the right to ban mining as a use of specified federal lands categorically, rather than provide a permit-based process for imposing reasonable environmental standards on federal mining operations,” says attorney James Buchal in his Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed with the United States Supreme Court submitted on January 21, 2019.
In Joshua Caleb Bohmker v. State of Oregon, the Miners argue the State of Oregon is thumbing its collective nose at federal preemption under the Property Clause and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, Articles IV and VI, respectively.
This case differs from Rinehart v. State of California in that Rinehart was cited for suction dredging without a permit, while Bohmker sued the State of Oregon for passing legislation that outlawed the use of motorized equipment on federal mining claims. The legislation permanently prevents a miner from developing his mining claim on federal lands.
It should be noted that the Galice Mining District intervened in this case and is asserting their rights under the 1872 Mining Act. The 1872 Mining Act includes “...and according to the local customs or rules of miners in the several mining districts...”
We had hoped Mr. Buchal would incorporate Mining District rights, as defined in the 1872 Mining Act, into the Rinehart case, but for whatever reason that did not happen. With Bohmker v. Oregon, this may be an opportunity to see if the US Supreme Court will honor this relevant statue in this case and if the new makeup of Supreme Court justices are ready to take a hard look at federal preemption.
You’ll find a link to this Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the online version of this article.
• Wheeler receives hearing as EPA Administrator
Andrew Wheeler has been the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since July 2018. He was promoted to acting administrator from his deputy administrator position following the resignation of Scott Pruitt. President Trump nominated Wheeler to take over as the agency head in November 2018. He received a Senate confirmation hearing on January 16, 2018.
Wheeler has prior experience as chief counsel to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and for Senator James Inhofe who is the current chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
With the current makeup of the Senate, Wheeler is expected to be confirmed shortly.
Judge Ochoa went so far as to call the California permit scheme “unenforceable.”
State regulators imposed a record $11 million fine on the operators of a gold mine in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento.
• California suction dredgers had better prepare for battle
Besides the EPA issue, our major priority is to work on the proposed amendment to the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (S 145), a bill proposed in the Senate by US Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada).
The petition seeks specific changes to existing Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management regulations to restore the intent of Congress and federal preemption.
• NEDC Surrenders in Oregon
• The California saga continues
- WOTUS rule finalized
- Reminder on new claim fees
The Bawl Mill • Ask The Experts - Do I need something other than a fire assay for PGMs? • Ask The Experts - This low-grade ore is not worth processing • Placer Gold Deposits of New Mexico • The Hunch • Resurrecting An Old Hard Rock Mine—A Series of Small Victories • The Basics of Exploration Leases and Contracts—Part I • Gold Prospecting for Better or Worse: A Long Hike • Mutiny on The Mason • Who Jumped Whose Claim First? • The Value of Evidence • Over The Divide: Charles "Chuck" Cushman • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices