Miners Making the Rules and Regulations?
October 2015 by Clark Pearson
How would you like it if you could make the actual rules and regulations governing your own business? A dream, right? Well, the existing Federal Mining Law gives a claimholder this ability in the context of organized Mining Districts.
Why are all the multitude of local, state and federal agencies regulating miners? The Mining Districts have been neglecting their duties under Federal Mining Law (30 U.S.C. section 22). This is why the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council (MMAC) was formed as a project under Public Lands for the People (PLP)—to organize the traditionally and legally recorded Mining Districts within the United States and encourage the miners holding mining claims to step up to the plate, legally, and take charge of their future. Presently MMAC has partnered with the Coal Miners Union, the National Mining Association, PLP, and the National Association of Mining Districts. MMAC is a combined effort by numerous concerned miners, mine owners, geologists, mining engineers, retired politicians, retired military personnel, and mining attorneys who are gravely concerned about the future security of our nation and its increased dependence on foreign sources of mined materials. The utter failure of the present Congress and all the federal and state agencies that are actively shuttering the mining industry through onerous and prohibitive regulation has resulted in the exact opposite of the 1970 National Minerals Policy Act intent. MMAC has been asked by the Congressional House Subcommittee on Natural Resources to put together a comprehensive solution to our industry’s plight. MMAC’s solution integrates within this draft bill named the “Minerals & Mining Regulatory Reform Act – A Clear Path Respecting Mining Rights” true accountability providing:
- Regulatory certainty of 30-day approval mitigation deadline
- Regulatory certainty of exemptions to the Clean Water Acts
- Regulatory certainty of exemptions to the Mine Safety and Health Administration
- Eliminates duplicative regulation by state and local governments
- Eliminates duplicative federal agency permits and the permit system
- Provides for Equal Access to Justice Act relief
- Provides for cost effective due process appeal relief for unreasonable regulation
- Reasonable regulatory best management standards and mitigation formation procedures
- Clear environmental standing requirements to eliminate frivolous environmental lawsuits
Priorities will include meeting with the EPA regarding suction gold dredging permitting and with the Forest Service regarding revisions to CFR 228A regulations related to mining and access on public lands.
...Most importantly, the mining districts can open the federal land to multiple-use by the public on principles of inclusion rather than the present-day exclusions...
Face-to-face meetings in Washington, DC, with Trump administration officials and members of Congress are still on hold due to the coronavirus, but Public Lands for the People is continuing to work on mining-related issues via phone and email.
You have made your presence known with the BLM or Forest Service, placed Mining District signs along the entrance points to your district, and found support with other local miners. But how do you gain popular support?
We now have supporters who are well known and connected in Washington, DC, and who state they will assist us in bypassing lower level staffers and getting us face-to-face meetings with Senators.
I want to stress that this is just the first step to fixing many of the regulatory issues we identified in discussions with the current administration. There will be plenty more to come.
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.
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