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.
…I’ll be heading back to Washington, DC, on June 4 with Clark Pearson of PLP for nearly a week of meetings with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, US Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous members of Congress in both the House and Senate.
We have found strong support from legislators in both the House and Senate for several proposed bills that will provide Mining Districts with a greater role in the decisions that affect access to mining claims, oversight and regulations.
Toward the end of this summer, we expect another Federal Register notice will be published that deals with Forest Service mining regulations.
We will be bringing the first of several bills that were requested by Congress during a previous MMAC trip and presenting maps depicting all the MMAC-assisted Mining Districts.
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.
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.
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.
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