April 2019 by Scott Harn
Clark Pearson (Public Lands for the People) and I completed our third week-long trip to DC in early March 2019 in our quest to seek regulatory certainty and regulatory relief for miners.
While there, we received some excellent letters supporting our proposed legislation from the Idaho County Republican Party and from Idaho Representative Priscilla Giddings. Giddings letter prompted an immediate response from staffers for a key Senator on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (We will be meeting with those staffers upon our return on April 2.)
We are focused on getting additional letters of support from other groups like the Idaho County Republican Party. Currently our focus is on similar groups in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia, as each of these states is represented on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. If you have connections with groups in these states, please contact me and I can provide some sample letters to send them to request an endorsement.
We’ve received other quality endorsements from retired Brigadier General John Adams, mining attorney James Buchal, the Waldo Mining District, and the list goes on.
We had several productive meetings during the week, and a few that were not so productive. It seems that Laura Skaer at the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) was contacted by a staffer for Senator Risch (R-Idaho) and Skaer stated she does not support our efforts. When pressed, Skaer refused to specify what parts of our proposed legislation she might be willing to support and called our efforts “an unproductive distraction.” It was more than a little ironic since we have been a paying member of AEMA for fifteen years.
We are undaunted and we look forward to working with incoming AEMA president Mark Compton following Skaer’s retirement at the end of March 2019.
At two recent trade shows I attended, I had folks ask if our “Critical Minerals: National Security Amendments to the NDAA” legislation will apply to small miners, too. The answer is a resounding “yes.” 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 other item to note... Upon our return home, we were contacted by Secretary of Defense Shanahan’s staff, and we are scheduled to meet with staffers at the Pentagon during early April. We also received a response from the White House, but we need to be more specific in our request. I can’t go into more details on this point right now, but we will get a meeting worked out.
If you haven’t yet joined Public Lands for the People, please consider doing so to help us pay for these efforts. You can find more information at www.publiclandsforthepeople.com. And if you know someone who might consider becoming a corporate sponsor, please let us know and we will send them our educational packet along with the proposed legislation.
Pearson called the trip, “The most productive so far. We are courting over a dozen potential sponsors now. We had some members call us back for additional meetings and several of these lasted over an hour.”
Many miners have failed to exercise their rights by using the power of their Mining Districts and laws that are already on the books, such as 43 CFR 9712.1, which states…
It's a proven civil remedy to put an end to harassment by notifying a person who is either overstepping their authority, or failing to act as required, that they will be sued personally for an act or omission.
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.
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.
The miner was drywashing using a small, gas-powered drywasher for a short period of time—maybe an hour—when he was asked by a ranger to see his permit, which is not required to prospect at this small of a scale.
If you need more proof that having an organized Mining District can help you, look no further than the recently proposed Methow Headwaters Withdrawal in north-central Washington State.
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