Appeal and Petition Regarding EPA Section 402 Permitting

by Scott Harn, Editor/Publisher
ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal

A suction gold dredge is the perfect piece of equipment to recover gold and reclaim lead, mercury and heavy metals from our waterways at the same time, but the EPA continues to block the use of these mining and reclamation devices.

There are two major issues preventing suction gold dredgers from mining their federal mining claims in many western states.

The first involves federal preemption, and that is being addressed by a rulemaking petition submitted by the Waldo Mining District and the Galice Mining District with the support of several mining organizations. (See our July 2019 "Legislative Update" column for information regarding this petition for rulemaking.)

The second issue involves the requirement of a permit under section 402 of the Clean Water Act.

The congressional record and court rulings have made it clear that section 402 of the Clean Water Act is not triggered unless there is the "addition" of a pollutant. There is no such "addition" when using these mining/reclamation devices.

Public Lands for the People and ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal have been working with PLP member Don Smith of Idaho to address this issue through an appeal and petition for rulemaking, which was submitted to the EPA on August 12, 2019.

The Trump administration has expressed a willingness to work with us and these two petitions for rulemaking can get the job done.

The following groups have signed a letter in support of this petition for rulemaking so far:

  • American Exploration & Mining Association
  • Armadillo Mining Shop
  • Bohemia Mine Owners Association
  • Couer D’Alene Mining District (Idaho)
  • County of Josephine (Oregon)
  • County of Siskiyou (California)
  • Dog Rock Enterprises
  • Douglas County Prospectors Association (Oregon)
  • Eagle Mountain Mining District (California)
  • Eastern Oregon Mining Association
  • Galice Mining District (Oregon)
  • Gold Prospector’s Association of America
  • Happy Camp Mining District (California)
  • ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal
  • North Bend Prospectors (Oregon)
  • Northwest Minerals Prospecting Club
  • O.G. Prospecting
  • Proline Mining Equipment
  • Public Lands for the People, Inc.
  • Resources Coalition
  • Rogue Recovery and Reclamation Alliance
  • Slate Creek Mining District (Washington)
  • StreamSavers
  • Summit Mining District (Idaho)
  • The New 49’ers Prospecting Association
  • Virginia Dale Mining District (California)
  • Waldo Mining District (Oregon)
  • Willamette Valley Miners

We need the support of your company or organization to encourage the EPA to take action on this issue.

Below you'll find the original Don Smith petition, the letter of support signed by 28 companies, organizations and counties, and a blank letter you can use to support this effort.


Idaho miner Don Smith's appeal and petition for rulemaking: Appeal and Petition for Rulemaking (pdf)

Petition support letter signed by 28 companies/organizations/counties: Support Letter (pdf)

Blank support letter you can mail in to lend your support: Blank Support Letter (Microsoft Word)   Blank support letter (pdf)

IMPORTANT: Please email a copy of your support letter to me so we can bring it with us for our next meeting with the EPA in Washington, DC.

Questions or comments? Email me, Scott Harn, Editor/Publisher, ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal or you can call 831 479-1500.

Thank you!


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