January 2021 by Scott Harn
Public Lands for the People (PLP) continued to participate in phone/video conferences with our friends in Washington, DC, while the pandemic continues to restrict the ability to conduct in-person meetings. The main point of discussion is how to provide immediate relief for miners if a new administration takes over on January 20, 2020.
Potential executive orders have been presented to President Trump’s advisors that would—at least temporarily—fix many of regulatory issues miners currently face. These options include removing the Forest Service for minerals management, providing unobstructed access to miners, removing authority over dredging from individual states, and much more. (Most of the items were listed in the proposed legislation we delivered to Congress in 2019 titled, “Critical Minerals: National Security Amendments to the NDAA,” which is available online.)
We realize that if our proposals are implemented by the Trump administration they could be soon withdrawn by the same executive order process by the next administration, but they would still provide temporary relief and clearly define which party miners should be supporting.
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). Senator Barrasso’s staff has been open to discussing these needed regulatory changes during our past meetings and we plan to return to DC for in-person meetings as soon as the pandemic allows.
We had multiple dates scheduled for trips to DC in 2020 to meet with members of the Senate, House, and federal regulatory agencies, but they were all postponed as the pandemic persisted. We look forward to restarting these trips as soon as they are feasible and we’ll continue to keep you posted.
…what I’d like to focus on in this update is the assistance they provided to a suction gold dredger in Idaho being harassed by an environmental group.
Each separate Mining District is a federally recognized entity. There are huge advantages—picture yourself going to an oversight meeting where 2, 3, 4, or even more Mining District representatives have obtained voting positions on the board.
We anticipate there will be a change in party leadership in possibly both the House and Senate following the November 2022 mid-term elections…
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.
We’ve built up some contacts in DC during our trips there over the past four years, and we believe we finally have the correct contacts who can get this petition reviewed by the proper people.
PLP is also concluding its funding and review of a scientific study which names the suction dredge as the preeminent tool for reclaiming American waterways to counter atmospheric mercury impacts coming from China.
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.
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