December 2018 by Scott Harn
“In light of the results of the midterm elections our focus will be with the US Senators and their staffers that we have already been working with,” said Clark Pearson, northern director of Public Lands for the People (PLP).
Republicans lost control of the House, which means the committee chairs and members in the House of Representatives we were meeting with in our attempt to provide regulatory relief for small miners across the US will lose their influential positions. However, the Republicans gained two Senate seats—for a total of 53—and could possibly gain one more following a run-off election scheduled for November 27 in Mississippi.
In 2018, a section addressing critical and strategic minerals was added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The 2019 NDAA cycle will be our focus.
PLP is also working on a political strategy and a “white paper” that should provide significant influence with the legislatures in California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington in regards to suction gold dredging. However, rather than waiting for those legislatures to come to their senses in light of the evidence, the focus will remain on getting relief at the federal level.
Plans are in the works to head back to Washington, DC, for meetings with the US Forest Service, the EPA, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. We initially planned to head back in early December, but we are waiting to see what changes are made to several of the key committees. New members of Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2019, and we hope to be there soon afterward. We have several Senators on the Armed Services Committee who have already expressed their support for our legislative proposals to provide relief for small-scale miners.
Again, I’m going to ask for your assistance. If you could please write a letter in support of the “Small Miner Amendments to the NDAA,” I will take these letters of support to DC with us and hand-deliver them as we talk to members of the Senate. (If you haven’t had a chance to read the Small Miner Amendments, you can find them with a quick search on our website.)
Please be sure to address your letter to your newly-elected Senators and not the ones who are currently in office if a new one is due to take that seat. The politicians want to know they have constituent support when they consider legislation, and your letters will be put to good use.
You can send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by fax at (831) 479-4385; or by mail to:
ICMJ, PO Box 2260, Aptos, CA 95001.
This is the third trip MMAC has made to DC this year, so some of the congressional staff members are gaining a better understanding of the current problems miners face and how MMAC-assisted Mining Districts can alleviate those problems.
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.
The changes we are seeking will most definitely help prospectors, small operations and dredgers. If you haven’t yet read our proposals, you’ll find a link to it at the end of the online version of this article.
We spent our evening at some informal get-togethers at two private residences in the DC area, which provided the opportunity to talk with staff members from Congress, other agencies, and a few consultants working on public land issues. We found common ground with many of them, and found a strong ally in a former Congressman turned consultant who agreed that Mining Districts provide the smartest legal route...
One caller wondered why he should be required to join MMAC, asked why MMAC was not a non-profit, and compared it to some kind of extortion attempt. If he had questions like these, I assume there are others with similar questions and I will address them here.
Within these districts, some of the roads and trails have been reopened for access, critical habitat designations have been scaled back, and a few Mining Districts were completely removed from proposed withdrawals.
Keep in mind there are specific steps that must be taken to get your traditional mining district organized if it has fallen into disarray.
The Bawl Mill • Legislative and Regulatory Update • Ask The Experts - LR 2000, ArcGIS, and other mapping applications • Ask The Experts - Advice for a new prospector in Placerville, California? • Placer Gold Deposits of Utah • Proven Strategies for Detecting Gold • Gold Prospecting for Better or Worse: Lesson Learned • Time to Come Home • Gold Indicators—What to Look for in the Goldfields • The Rest of the Story—Detecting With Ray Mills • Gold and Mining Stocks Will Rebound—But When? • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices