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.
The automatic discrimination and exclusion of man from nature, like his access and use of the land, presupposes man as a destructive force for change, absent a relative hard look at the natural forces of change. Setting aside lands for non-use does not encourage wise use symbiotic tenets, which man has traditionally formed in his coexistence with nature.
A mining right is a powerful and not commonly understood concept that is all too often watered down by agency regulatory interference...
Plans are also under way to coordinate with the incoming chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Is there any hope for a solution? Yes, there is, and we’ve been working with Public Lands for the People, the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council, attorney James Buchal and others on that solution.
We are in the planning stages for our next trip to DC. Clark and I are looking at returning after the mid-term elections, probably around the end of November or early December, to continue discussions with members of Congress…
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.
Public Lands for the People is working on a Miner's Bill of Rights with the support of several members of Congress.
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