May 2019 by Scott Harn
Clark Pearson (Public Lands for the People) and I spent an extremely busy week in DC in early April during our continued quest for regulatory relief and regulatory certainty for miners.
Keep in mind that while the current title of our proposed legislation has “critical minerals” and “China” in the title, it would apply to all miners. Even though gold is not listed as a “critical mineral” by the US Geological Survey, the proposed legislation would apply to all mining.
We began with a meeting with Pentagon officials and a USGS director regarding China’s control of the critical minerals supply and how our proposed legislation would provide regulatory certainty to get mining going again in America. The USGS director was in agreement about our approach—you can’t separate mining of critical minerals from other minerals as many of the critical minerals are byproducts of other types of mining operations.
The meeting with Pentagon officials was quite the experience. It reminded me of the Get Smart television series and subsequent movie as we successfully passed through sliding doors and various security checkpoints that opened and closed behind us. It was reassuring to know that these sensitive areas are definitely secure.
We had face-to-face meetings with some key members of Congress who are on the committees that address public land issues. Included were Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Congressman Tom McClintock (R-California). We also had the opportunity to personally thank Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) for supporting miners and other public land users.
Jeff Small, Executive Director of the Western Caucus, confirmed he submitted our proposed legislation to the Legislative Council in the House so it could be formatted properly for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). (Jeff is also the Legislative Director for Congressman Gosar.) The NDAA seems to be the path of least resistance since President Trump signed executive orders that designated critical minerals as a national security issue.
We had additional meetings with staffers for Senator Martha McSally (R-Arizona) and Congressman Paul Cook (R-California).
We also squeezed in meetings with officials from the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service, and distributed over 100 copies of the latest version of our educational/legislative package to key members in the House and Senate.
And we capped off the week with a meeting with President Trump’s Senior Advisor for Energy and Environment at the White House.
It was an extremely busy week, and we are already scheduled to return on April 30, as we continue this effort. One of our first meetings for this next trip will be with Trump appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency as we seek an EPA determination about the Clean Water Act and the exclusion of those activities that do not include the addition of a pollutant.
What Can I Do?
- As part of our ongoing efforts, we have started recruiting businesses and individuals who might want to contribute financially toward this effort. Trips to DC are not cheap. Airline tickets, hotel rooms, taxi rides and Uber fees add up quickly, and we are already working on our 5th week-long trip this year. If you know of someone who might contribute toward this effort, please contact me and I can send them (or you) a copy of the educational/legislative packet along with a sponsorship form.
- We have some excellent support letters from a wide variety of groups, which range from retired military personnel to the Idaho County Republican Committee to the Waldo Mining District. If your group would like to register your support in the form of a letter, please contact me and I can provide some examples.
- 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. It would be quite impressive to drop a thick printout on their desks to show them they have support in their home state to move this legislation forward. You’ll find the online petition at www.publiclandsforthepeople.org. Just click on the banner that says “Take Action.” Scroll down to find the spot where you can add your name as a supporter.
That’s it for now—I’ll provide another update in the next (June) issue of ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal.
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.
Q: The nearest access to the claim is a half mile walk, which is tough for a lode claim.
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.
…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 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…
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...
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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