Miners challenge California ban on dredging

Western Mining Alliance
4/14/2012 2:02 PM 

SAN BERNARDINO — California property and mining rights groups filed a lawsuit April 12 challenging the state’s recently released suction dredging regulations.

Public Lands for the People, Western Mining Alliance and Keene Engineering, among other plaintiffs seek to challenge the science and process behind the state’s recently completed Environmental Impact Report.

“These rules impede on basic, fundamental and congressionally protected rights, including the right to property and the right to basic economic freedom,” said PLP President Jerry Hobbs.

WMA President Craig Lindsay said suction dredge regulations are the result of lobbying by several radical environmental groups, which have produced no evidence that suction dredging harms fish or fish habitat, among other claims.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Lindsay said. “The Environmental Impact Report could not prove where one fish had been harmed in 50 years. Suction gold dredges have been removing legacy mercury from the rivers. Miners have removed over 2.5 tons of mercury over the past 50 years. Each year, we are removing more mercury, lead, iron and other toxic metals than any government funded effort, and we do it for free. Even the environmental groups acknowledge that a suction dredge is the most efficient method for cleaning up mercury, we just differ on our rights to do it.”

“The new regulations were heavily influenced by environmental groups who seek to ban all activities from the state’s waterways. The state could not show a single instance where a fish anywhere in the state was harmed by suction gold dredging,” he said.

The EIR, which took over two years in planning, preparation and issuance reportedly, cost more than  $1.5 million in taxpayer funds. The EIR was issued March 16 under the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act. The final report consisted of more than 1,388 pages and included the use of “may, might or could” more than 1,200 times while using the words “is proven” not once, Lindsay pointed out.

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