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.
PLP is also looking toward meeting with the incoming chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and it appears it will be Senator Barrasso (R-Wyoming).
Public Lands for the People (PLP) has come up with a guide for miners and prospectors that they believe will alleviate many of the problems faced when operating on public lands managed by the US Forest Service.
If you are a claimholder and your Mining District is in disarray, it’s time to join MMAC and get on board so your district can benefit from these changes as they are implemented.
In the meantime, I want to highlight some recent court cases won with the assistance of Public Lands for the People…
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.
Public Lands for the People has established an online petition. We would like to gather thousands of signatures from across the country to show members of Congress that their constituents are supporting this legislation.
…a half-dozen dredgers have completed the appropriate paperwork and are conducting dredging operations at this juncture. They hope to expand these efforts to other western states in the near future.
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