Quote Of The Day

Visit Our Other Blogs: Papa's Blog Brew Juice

Monday, July 11, 2011

California Suction Dredging News

Gold miners celebrate a line-item veto that Governor Brown made in the final State Budget today.
Suction dredge mining in California has been under a temporary moratorium since 2009, when the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) began conducting an Environmental Impact Report on the practice.
In February 2011 the draft report was released, which concludes that suction dredge mining is not deleterious to fish.
But the positive outcome was not anticipated by a handful of Indian tribes and environmental extremists who don't like suction dredging, so they concocted an erroneous $1.8m deficit in the suction dredge program and proposed to Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) that he carry the 'budget cutting' language to the State Budget in a trailer bill. The bill language was written in such a way that the DFG would have been prevented from ever publishing the EIR, thus ending suction dredge mining forever in California.
Miners got word of the last-minute attempt to kill the industry and began contacting Governor Brown and the Legislators who had been supplied with the erroneous information. In three party-line votes, all Democrats voted for the 'budget cut' and all Republicans voted against it. Because the Democrats have majority in both houses, the trailer bill passed and was sent to the Governor for his signature. Fortunately, the bill died there today.
With Governor Brown's veto, the DFG can now publish the EIR findings and resume updating the dredge mining regulations.
However, in a companion attack by the same anti-mining foes, amended moratorium language was inserted in yet another trailer budget bill AB120, which, if enacted, will add five more years to the soon-expiring moratorium which began in 2009.
"It is our hope that Governor Brown will allow the original moratorium to be solved with the EIR scientific findings," states Dunn, "rather than allowing anti-mining foes to keep inventing new criteria for the DFG to chase after, and wasting taxpayers' money while doing so."
If the Governor vetoes the trailer bill language, the nearly immediate consequences to California's economy would be positive: 4,000 miners will be back to work and 15,000 inter-related jobs will be protected, adding much needed revenues to the State's coffers.
The suction dredge gold mining industry generates $23 million annually in California, and supports jobs in more than 14 sectors, including restaurants, hardware stores, gas stations and camping outfitters. "These are real mom and pop businesses that rely on miners every season," says Dunn. They, along with the miners, are hoping for a quick and positive decision by the Governor on AB120.

Suciton Dredging, Here we go again
More bad news for suction dredging. Call or email the Governor now and tell him to veto AB 120. Bellow is a letter from Mark Stopher regarding the current state of Suction Dredging. To email the Governor, follow the link in the Political Action section of this web site.
Interested Parties

Governor Brown vetoed specific parts of the State budget bill (i.e. SB 87), eliminating the provisions which would have prohibited the Department of Fish and Game from expending any funds for the development of suction dredge regulations. His message stated

"I am deleting Provision 3, which would prohibit the Department of Fish and Game from using funds appropriated in this item for suction-dredge regulation, permitting, or other activities, except enforcement and litigation costs. This provision would prohibit the Department from completing a court-ordered Environmental Impact Report regarding the impacts of suction dredge mining on Coho salmon and other threatened or endangered species. While I am vetoing this language to ensure the Department is not in violation of the court order, I direct the Secretary of Resources to examine the program and associated policies before restarting the permit process."

This action resolves some of the uncertainty about completion of the regulation writing process and compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which we had projected for completion in November of 2011. As of this moment, the Governor has not acted yet on a related budget trailer bill, i.e. AB 120. AB 120 includes the following language:

""(12) Existing law designates the issuance by the Department of Fish and Game of permits to operate vacuum or suction dredge equipment to be a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and suspends the issuance of permits, and mining pursuant to a permit, until the department has completed an environmental impact report for the project as ordered by the court in a specified court action. Existing law prohibits the use of any vacuum or suction dredge equipment in any river, stream, or lake, for instream mining purposes, until the Director of Fish and Game certifies to the Secretary of State that (a) the department has completed the environmental review of its existing vacuum or suction dredge equipment regulations as ordered by the court, (b) the department has transmitted for filing with the Secretary of State a certified copy of new regulations, as necessary, and (c) the new regulations are operative. This bill would modify that moratorium to prohibit the use of vacuum or suction dredge equipment until June 30, 2016, or until the director’s certification to the secretary as described above, whichever is earlier. The bill would additionally require the director to certify that the new regulations fully mitigate all identified significant environmental impacts and that a fee structure is in place that will fully cover all costs to the department related to the administration of the program."

The key elements are that the current moratorium is extended to June 30, 2016 unless, as before, the Department of Fish and Game complete its environmental review under CEQA, adopts new regulations and those regulations take effect. It adds two new requirements. First, all significant impacts must be fully mitigated. This appears to be a different standard for approval than we were previously working toward, however, the term "fully mitigate" is not defined in CEQA or the Fish and Game Code. And a new fee structure must be in place. This latter requirement will require legislation. Each new requirement has the potential to affect the substance of the outcome and timing of these efforts.

Currently, we continue to work on the regulations and Final SEIR. Once the outcome of AB 120 is known we will reconsider how this effort will proceed.

Mark Stopher
Environmental Program Manager
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

voice 530.225.2275
fax 530.225.2391
cell 530.945.1344

Interested Parties

As of this moment, Assembly Bill 120 has not yet been sent to the Governor's disk. It was approved by the legislature on 06/15/2011. After approval, a bill goes to "Engrossing and Enrolling" before being transferred to the Governor's office. This bill currently remains at this step.

If you wish to check status on this legislation you can do so at any time over the internet at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquerybill_number=ab_120&sess=CUR&house=B&author=committee_on_budget

Mark Stopher
Environmental Program Manager
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

Metal Detectors

MD 3005 -
$ 79.00usd

MD 6000 -
WAS $ 499.00usd

NOW - $ 399.00usd

MD7030 -
$ 239.00usd

No comments:

Post a Comment