PLP Update: Another Suction Dredge Case Heading to the US Supreme Court
December 2019 by Scott Harn
As mentioned last issue, Public Lands for the People (PLP) has been assisting a member after the California Department of Fish & Wildlife attempted to expand its authority and cited a prospector for not having a stream alteration permit while drywashing. This case was postponed by the prosecution for another month after PLP offered to assist by providing expert testimony.
Two PLP board members will be attending the American Exploration and Mining Association tradeshow in Sparks, Nevada in December to garner support for providing regulatory relief for small-scale miners.
And, as we reported previously, PLP assisted suction gold dredger Don Smith of Idaho with a petition to the EPA requesting clarification of their dredge permit policy. The Clean Water Act clearly states there must be the “addition” of a pollutant to trigger a permit requirement, but the agency and those states handling permitting on the state level through a memorandum of understanding with the EPA have ignored this requirement. There were 26 groups who signed on to a letter of support for this clarification.
On a related note, miners in Oregon were facing similar issues in regards to suction gold dredge permitting, and they appealed their case, Eastern Oregon Mining Association v. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, to the Oregon Supreme Court. Unlike past suction dredging court cases, the “no addition” argument was thoroughly litigated. Unfortunately, the court ruled 6-1 against the miners, deferring to the agency interpretation.
I’ve had a few discussions with Tom Kitchar, president of the Waldo Mining District about this case. I’m happy to report that the Eastern Oregon Mining Association, the Waldo Mining District, and four individuals have signed an agreement with the Pacific Legal Foundation to appeal the “no addition” argument to the US Supreme Court! Pacific Legal Foundation has a stellar track record and does not take on cases unless it has a strong belief it can win. It is a huge boost to have attorneys with their knowledge and expertise take on this case.
We expect opening briefs to be filed in December. If the US Supreme Court accepts the case, we likely won’t see a ruling until late in 2020.
In the meantime, we will continue our multi-pronged approach to seek regulatory relief at the federal level while supporting those court cases that are built on a strong legal foundation. I expect my next trip to Washington, DC with PLP will take place in early 2020, where we will focus on getting the EPA clarification on suction dredge permitting, among other items.
...and don't miss the NEWS ALERT posted in our Recent News section!
Within these districts, some of the roads and trails have been reopened for access, critical habitat designations have been scaled back, and a few Mining Districts were completely removed from proposed withdrawals.
• Obama’s parting shots
• California suction dredging
• Oregon follows California’s lead
• Lawsuit coming; bill introduced to stop mining in Washington State
• President Trump halts new federal regulations
NOI or POO for small backhoe
The Bureau of Land Management announced an increase in location filing fees and annual maintenance fees for unpatented mining claims, mill sites and tunnel sites.
As a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, I’m not allowed to talk about specifics in the court-ordered negotiations currently underway in San Bernardino. However, I do want to let you know we are making progress…
• Conformation for some
• Congress canceling regulations
• BLM to raise fees again
• Roadless Rule stands
• Suit filed over dredging restrictions in Washington State
• NWMA lends support
• California suction gold dredging lawsuits progressing
The Bawl Mill • Ask The Experts - How do I obtain a map of Montana gold & sapphire gravel bars? • Ask The Experts - How do I process this white quartz with black striations? • Ask The Experts - Does gravel + bedrock = gold? • Back to Green Valley--With A Sluice • A Lesson In Underwater Sniping • More Fiddling While Forests Burn • Achieving Accurate Metal Detector Discrimination • My New Passion--Crystal Hunting • The Half-Mile Claim • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices • Gold Prospecting for Better or Worse: White Knuckle Mining