Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) released the following comments today in reaction to the 9th Circuit Court recent decision that the U.S. Forest Service consult with wildlife agencies prior to granting notices of intent for mining and exploration activities. That action would cause delays in the permitting process for months or even years.
"This industry has been under assault for some time. Small dredge mining businesses will be hurt or even destroyed as a result of this mean spirited attack from a narrow constituency who don't like gold dredge mining," said Nielsen. "This flies in the face of California history, which was founded by the gold rush. This is yet another environmentalist attack on responsible citizens, who have been good stewards of river beds and streams throughout California."
Last year, a moratorium on suction dredge mining through 2016 was passed within Assembly Bill 120. In this year's tentative 2012-13 Budget, the Democrats removed the 2016 sunset for the moratorium on suction dredge mining in order to provide unlimited time to concoct new regulations that meet the approval of environmental extremists. The bill also asks the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to consult with other agencies, such as the State Resources Water Control Board, Department of Public Health and the Native American Heritage Commission, and report back to the Legislature with recommendations as to what additional authorities or statutory changes would be necessary to develop suction dredge regulations that would mitigate all environmental impacts, and make recommendations for a fee schedule that would cover all program costs.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, who wrote the dissenting opinion in the 7-4 ruling, stated that the ruling has far-reaching ramifications well beyond the weekend hobbyist miners who dredge for gold along the Klamath River.
Circuit Judge Milan Smith, Jr., wrote in his dissenting opinion, "By rendering the Forest Service impotent to meaningfully address low impact mining, the majority effectively shuts down the entire suction dredge mining industry in the states within our jurisdiction."
"Destroying an industry on the petty whim of an elite few is another reason why California economy is of the worst in the nation," said Nielsen.