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Action Needed Now: California considering 5-yr moratorium on dredging in current budget bill

May 11, 2011

We just received word that Subcommittee 2 in the California State Senate is considering adding language to a budget bill that would place a moratorium on suction dredge mining for a period of five years and stop the court-ordered Supplemental Environmental Impact Report that is already under way.

Page 39 of the agenda for tomorrow, May 12, 2011, states:

Staff Recommendation:  Approve the following:

(1)  Trailer bill language to continue the moratorium on issuance of suction dredge permits for an additional five years, or until such time as new regulations that fully mitigate all identified significant environmental impacts, and a proposed fee structure that will fully cover all program costs, are in place. 

(2)  Approve Budget Bill Language prohibiting any funding at the department from being used for suction dredge mining regulation, permitting or other activities.

The recommendation is based on the faulty premise that the suction dredge permits only cost $25 and the program creates a net-loss for the California Department of Fish & Game.

When SB 670 was passed the bill clearly stated that passage of that bill would negatively impact DFG and that enforcement activities were covered by permit fees. Here is the exact wording from the bill:

FISCAL EFFECT of SB670: According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, loss of approximately $175,000 in annual revenue each  year the moratorium is in effect, resulting from loss of suction dredge permit fees (Fish and Game Preservation Fund). Currently, fee revenue pays for suction dredge permit enforcement at the cost of approximately $50,000 per year, activity which will presumably continue during the moratorium.

Here is what you need to do tonight:

Only three Senators -- all part of Subcommittee 2 -- will decide whether or not to add the above language to the budget bill at this time. Call each one of them tonight. There is no time to send a letter -- you must call.  If their mailboxes are full, then you must call them in the morning to make an impact.


Phone numbers:

Sen. Lowenthal (916) 651-4027 and (562) 495-4766 and (562) 529-6659

Sen. Simitian (chair) (916) 651-4011 and (408) 277-9460 and (831) 425-0401

Sen. Fuller (916) 651-4018


Here is the info they need to hear from you:

1.     The Background info supplied to the Committee is inaccurate. DFG does not lose money as a result of the suction dredging program.  

2.     The stated fee structure in inaccurate. The cost for permits are $47.50 in-state, and $167.25 out of state ( a far cry from the $25 stated in this Background proposal)

3.     PLEASE VOTE NO for the moratorium on suction dredging 

Thank you.




Scott Harn


ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal

Supporting Documents:
May 12, 2011 Agenda for Subcommittee 2, California Senate
Fiscal Impact of SB670

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