Legislative and Regulatory Update
December 2010 by Scott Harn• The good, the bad, and the ugly
The November elections changed the picture considerably when it comes to legislation.
The Good. We may actually get to see how screwed up the Federal Reserve Bank is when Democrats lose control of the House come January 2011.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is in line to chair the House subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, the committee that oversees the Federal Reserve.
Paul authored the book, End the Fed, and also authored several bills over the past few years that would have required an audit of the government agency if approved by Congress. He has spoken many times about his desire to rein in government spending and reduce deficits. And, he is in favor of restoring the gold standard, which would require every US Dollar to be backed by gold.
While Paul won’t likely be successful in his goals to reinstate the gold standard or to shut down the Federal Reserve system, it certainly will be entertaining to see him match wits with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and attempt to expose some of the backroom deals that took place with the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, and the bailouts of companies like AIG and Goldman Sachs.
Expect to see more gridlock in Congress come January with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. In our view, we all benefit when Congress cannot pass countless new laws and regulations. Many bills were under consideration that were unfavorable to miners, including increased mining claim maintenance and location fees, hefty royalties, and placing millions of additional acres off-limits to mining. Many of these bills will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass in the new Congress.
Cap-and-trade legislation, which would have created an entirely new regulatory mess for all businesses, appears to be dead.
The Bad. There’s still a “lame duck” session of Congress, which has already commenced and could continue until December 17. Those who have lost their reelection bids have nothing to lose. Democrats are still in control until the end of the year, and there is plenty of damage that can be done before they head out the door. Watch for unfavorable legislation attached to spending bills. There is still a minute possibility that an omnibus lands bill could be voted upon before Congress adjourns. Over 170 environmental groups sent a letter to Congress on November 10, asking for a vote on a package of 20 land bills that would designate 2 million acres off-limits to mining and other development. These bills include BLM and national forest lands in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.
The Ugly. The current administration still has plenty of tools at their disposal to wreak havoc on miners. Administrative policies, directives, and executive orders can still be used to try to restrict mining and other public land uses. The EPA continues down a path toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions without the approval of Congress. And, there is currently no recourse if President Obama utilizes the Antiquities Act to place additional lands off-limits by creating new national monuments.
• California and Oregon dredge permits
California. The new draft Environmental Impact Report on suction gold dredging in California is scheduled to be released in late December 2010, assuming there are no further delays. We expect to see a heavy handed approach to regulation based on past experiences with California’s Department of Fish & Game, and it will be of utmost importance for miners to stay involved in this process.
Meanwhile, several lawsuits are still slowly making their way through California courts, with no early resolution in sight.
Oregon. Oregon miners are continuing their battle with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The Eastern Oregon Mining Association (EOMA) appealed a Court of Appeals decision to the Oregon Supreme Court regarding the requirement for a 700PM permit for suction dredging from 2005.
In a ruling that ignored all case precedent, the Court of Appeals stated that both an Army Corps 402 and 404 are required, but DEQ lacked the authority to regulate 404-type discharges.
While the appeal to the Supreme Court was pending, DEQ issued a new 2010 700PM permit that was essentially identical to the previous one, ignoring the Court of Appeals ruling. And because a new 700PM permit was issued, the Oregon Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot.
A new round of lawsuits have now been filed by EOMA and the Waldo Mining District, challenging the 2010 700PM permit. The Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Rogue Riverkeeper have also filed a lawsuit against DEQ, claiming the new permit is not restrictive enough.
The Waldo Mining District and EOMA are in need of donations to help fund these lawsuits.
Waldo Mining District
PO Box 1574
Cave Junction, OR 97523
PO Box 932
Baker City, OR 97814
Recently, a left-leaning Arizona federal judge, James Soto, who is an Obama appointee, shut down a proposed copper mining project for the flimsiest of reasons. He basically disregarded and rewrote federal mining law.
• Biden’s incoming administration has green agenda
• Habitat definition finalized
After many decades of closures, land-use restrictions, and over-regulation, miners and all other public land users may finally see some real relief due to the efforts of MMAC.
- NEPA comments due
- Update on latest US Supreme Court suction gold dredging appeal
- Washington State tries to restrict suction gold dredging
Superior Court Judge Karen L. Dixon granted the temporary restraining order on July 3, 2013.
• Oregon's attack on suction gold dredging
• New DOI Director nominated
• More Forest Service restrictions in the works
• California suction gold dredging
In other words, just like those that move next to an airport and then complain about the noise, Mr. Riskedahl deliberately went out of his way to “witness and document the effects of suction dredge mining,” and when he found some, he was annoyed by it!
The Bawl Mill • Ask The Experts—Iridium • Ask The Experts—Highbanker legal in CA?; Best place to sell raw gold? • Ask The Experts—Using classifiers • So, Where's The Gold?—Finding Gold Detectors Miss • The Oregon Claim • Forest Service v. Michael & Linda Backlund • Highbanking on the Feather River • CFTC Finds Evidence of Silver Market Manipulation • Gold in Arizona • Detecting for Gold in Australia—The Kimberley Trip • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices
Know Your District