You guys will be interested to know that the dredging moratorium is now being challenged in Plumas County Superior Court. There may be a fast track possibility of overturning the existing moratoriums in this case.
This case began with a criminal complaint against Brandon Renehart for possessing and using a suction dredge without a permit in violation of Section 5653 of the Fish & Game Code.
In response,[Public Lands for the People, Inc and] our attorney, James Buchal (representing Brandon in this case), challenged the criminal complaint on its face (called a “Demurrer” in California law) based upon federal supremacy laws. James makes a compeling legal arguement that controlling case law in America prevents any State from enacting a prohibition against mining on the public lands — which is clearly what the State of California has done through a moratorium which prevents permits from being issued until an impossible set of circumstances have been met.
In turn, the State has filed a vigerous response alleging that the current moratorium is just temporary; something we all know is blatantly false. But it is clear the State is fighting very hard to overcome the Demurrer. James’ Reply to the State sets the record straight.
So now we will find out if the judge will dismiss the case or it will proceed to trial. My guess is that if the case is not dismissed here, since I believe there are no factual issues in dispute, and the resolution will be a matter of interpreting the law, this case could be rather quickly resolved in Summary Judgment. That could happen before the coming dredging season.
The above linked arguments make for interesting reading, because to a large extent, they mirror some of the main arguments that we [and PLP] are making in San Bernardino, a consolidation of civil cases [brought about by PLP,] that will perhaps take quite a bit longer to resolve.
In the event that the judge dismisses Brandon’s case based upon the argument that California’s present scheme of denying suction dredge permits to anyone is preempted by the supremacy clause, it would seem that suction dredging will immediately resume in California perhaps without any permits whatsoever. That would certainly be a reversal!