PLP Update as of 8-11-18:
Public Lands for the People delivered information to the Federal EPA in Washington DC in March that legally explained that suction dredgers do not “add” a pollutant within the meaning of the Federal Clean Water Act requiring a 402 or 404 pollution discharge permit. The EPA has assured us of a decision in the near future, as it was passed to their specialists on the matter.
As we know, whether it is California’s SB 637, or the CA Water Board, or Idaho’s IDWR, they all defer to the Federal EPA regarding exemptions when the Feds choose to specifically state such. The fact is, the States get funds from the Federal government to carry out these directives. PLP is continuing to follow this matter up and resolve it under the Trump administration so that suction dredgers will not be labeled polluters requiring discharge permits in CA or any other State. PLP strongly believes that by submitting to a 402 permit, as some have advocated (see the article below this newsletter: “Surrendering to the Pollution Permit”), miners will run the risk of undermining and subverting our negotiations with the Federal EPA to resolve this issue at a national level.
PLP also believes that when the true costs of the $6,000 permit plus the cost of hiring a water monitoring engineer per dredger (or group of dredgers), at $50,000 comes to light (which is now being hidden), dredgers will be rightfully outraged as this will not be affordable, nor reasonable. We can say this with relative certainty based upon our experts with real experience in past permitting, going back to the year 2000!
On a related note, these negotiations with the CA State Water Board will not lift the existing ban on suction dredging in class ‘A’ waters (closed to dredging), under the Fish & Game regulations along with many unreasonable restrictions such as no winching, no dredging within 3 feet of a stream bank, 4” maximum nozzle, etc. Please review the CDFW regulations thoroughly and judge for yourself. https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=46636
PLP has a solution to this situation through the “Small Miner Amendments to the NDAA” now presently sitting in the Minerals subcommittee in Congress under review and markup. We are presently being told by the subcommittee chair (Congressman Paul Gosar, AZ), that there is very positive interest in sponsors to get this bill on track for next year. We need and certainly appreciate your moral and financial support to keep this momentum going in the halls of Congress!
As an option, PLP is considering litigating CA SB 637 in Federal District court. Unfortunately, it’s presently beyond PLP’s sole financial means without your added financial support, and especially the promised support from several mining and prospecting organizations which has vaporized. We can’t even consider this option in light of the disappointing fact that AMRA and the GPAA has not committed, nor produced any civil litigation monies to PLP in the past 2 years to fight the ongoing dredge litigation against the State of California.
We believe that the more cost-effective solution is through our present Federal legislative push to override the state and the state court decisions, and to stay on track and within budget. Our “Small Miner Amendments” not only solves the dredgers problems, it solves many, many more regulatory issues in a simple but comprehensive way. Read it on our website if you have not already and tell your Congressman and Senator we need this now!
Read/LEARN/Support/ Join PLP today at our website: www.publiclandsforthepeople.org
Surrendering to the Pollution Permit
There has been a lot of buzz going around lately that “They might let us dredge in 2019” in California. That would truly be awesome after all these years! The small-scale mining industry will be back in full swing. Manufacturers would once again start cranking out dredges and other related equipment; good times to be enjoyed by one and all. That has been and continues to be the goal of Public Lands for the People.
We must at this point perform our due diligence.
Mining groups other than PLP have proposed that miners submit themselves to a water quality permit (permission) from the California Water Board, in order to obtain an additional permit from CDFW with the admission by the applicant that suction dredging for gold is adding a pollutant (although it be deminimus). That means the miner admits he is adding pollution to the waterway, but “please, let us dredge.” This one act alone not only is dishonest due to the fact that dredges remove material from the waterway (net withdrawal), this gives up one’s Mining Rights by contract to the government of California and turns away from the important win in the Godfrey case. Federal Mining rights can only be protected FEDERALLY – not at the state level. State law only fills the gaps where federal law does not speak or specifically occupy on federal lands.
The PLP Board agrees with the concerns the Mining Journal has regarding SB1222: https://www.icmj.com/magazine/article/california-to-allow-suction-dredging-in-2019-3828/
It appears at this time that SB1222 has come to a halt. Good riddance! Preserving federally granted mining rights has been a core value of PLP since its inception and is a responsibility the board will not waiver from. SB1222 as written demonizes the suction nozzle that many smart miners have been using via gravity systems. We cannot in good conscious support submitting to a state agency that will require we relinquish our Federal Mining Rights to a privilege-based permit “permission” system that states dredges pollute, and that the privilege can be taken away at any time via an agency, committee or legislature of the state.
Do you trust the Government or the Legislature of California to be fair? The same Government that some correctly has accused of tyranny, and the same government that continues to defy federal law on many other issues not directly related to mining which affects our whole country and the future of our Republic. This fight against the tyranny of the Government of California has always been that the state can only regulate reasonably. They are not authorized to prohibit! Mining law is authorized through Federal law, which supersedes state law when in conflict. By submitting to the CA Water Board or CDFW for a permit will not guarantee that they cannot deny that permit (permission), at any time in the future, even after permission was given! Is that not what happened to us in 2009?
We have faith that for the first time in a long time we have an Administration in Washington that values the Constitution and the rule of law! That same Administration has recently filed suit against the State of California over FEDERAL PREEMPTION. We believe we are on the verge of seeing great things happen in our country. And boy, it is about time!
This is one analogy:
Soldiers in our Revolutionary War were cold, hungry and tired. They longed for the warmth, safety and freedom they dreamt of and fought so hard for. A number of the men figure that if they could just cut a deal with the British, they could go home to their families, hold their wives and children, and trust that they would be safe and free of tyranny for awhile. That the British would honor the compromise. This sounded very appealing and many soldiers considered compromising.
Fortunately for America, the men of those days would not compromise at all when it came to rights and freedom. Many would be willing to die, and die they did to ensure the Rights and Freedom for future generations, even if it meant extreme pain and discomfort in the present. We consider that Courageous and of Noble Character. Fortunately for us, at this point in time we do not have to face death to stand strong.
Preserving federally granted mining rights has been a core value of PLP since its inception and is a responsibility the board will not waiver from. That is why PLP was founded and we continue in this vein. We understand this point of view may not be popular with some in the mining community, and we KNOW it is unpopular with the ones who want to diminish or take our rights away altogether! We will continue to:
TAKE IT BACK AND KEEP IT!
Federal Mining rights can only be protected FEDERALLY – not at the state level. State law only fills the gaps where federal law does not speak or specifically occupy on federal lands If the prospector / miner does not trust the State of California, then the miner could support the FEDERAL “Small Miner Amendment to S. 145” and join PLP to protect your Federal Mining Rights.
Your Board of Directors,
Public Lands for the People
P.S. Read PLP’s Legal Accomplishments here: