Opposition to the scheme that is SB637 in CA

Once again, we are writing a letter on behalf of all AMRA members and supporters in opposition to SB637, another scheme by the Democrats to create another suction dredge “effective ban” in California.  We all need to take a few minutes and write a letter in opposition to this.  Just having AMRA write one on your behalf is not sufficient, we MUST unite against this horrid bill and stand together in opposition.  Don’t just complain………WRITE A LETTER or go to this link and send in your digital opposition to this bill:



We are asking each of you write or fax a letter to the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in the CA State Senate.  Below is the letter we are writing to Assembly member Levine, the Chair of the committee.  The letter you write does not have to be as detailed as ours but it needs to contain the following, that you OPPOSE SB637 for the reasons you decide to list.

It can be as simple as “I oppose this bill’ because:

The devastating economic impacts of this bill to the poor and rural communities of CA.

The science is flawed on suction dredging.

Suction dredging is NOT harmful to fish or fish habitat.

There already is significant regulation concerning suction dredging.

or any other reasons you care to list.


Here is the contact information on each member and the Chair:  We also urge you to look this list over and determine if your individual Assembly member is listed below, if they are, write a separate letter to them as well.  This is highly important folks, this bill is horrible and is yet another scheme to ban mining.

Assembly member Marc Levine

1020 N Street, Suite 160
Sacramento, CA 95814
P.O. Box 94249
Sacramento, CA 94249-00119
Office: 916-319-2096
Fax: 916-319-2196

Committee Member List:

Committee Members District Office & Contact Information
Marc Levine (Chair) Dem – 10 Contact Assembly Member Marc Levine

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2141, Sacramento, CA 94249-0010; (916) 319-2010

Frank Bigelow (Vice Chair) Rep – 05 Contact Assembly Member Frank Bigelow

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 6027, Sacramento, CA 94249-0005; (916) 319-2005

Matthew Dababneh Dem – 45 Contact Assembly Member Matthew Dababneh

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 4112, Sacramento, CA 94249-0045; (916) 319-2045

Brian Dahle Rep – 01 Contact Assembly Member Brian Dahle

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2158, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001; (916) 319-2001

Bill Dodd Dem – 04 Contact Assembly Member Bill Dodd

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2137, Sacramento, CA 94249-0004; (916) 319-2004

Beth Gaines Rep – 06 Contact Assembly Member Beth Gaines

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2130, Sacramento, CA 94249-0006; (916) 319-2006

Cristina Garcia Dem – 58 Contact Assembly Member Cristina Garcia

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2013, Sacramento, CA 94249-0058; (916) 319-2058

Jimmy Gomez Dem – 51 Contact Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2114, Sacramento, CA 94249-0051; (916) 319-2051

Matthew Harper Rep – 74 Contact Assembly Member Matthew Harper

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2002, Sacramento, CA 94249-0074; (916) 319-2074

Patty López Dem – 39 Contact Assembly Member Patty López

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 5160, Sacramento, CA 94249-0039; (916) 319-2039

Devon J. Mathis Rep – 26 Contact Assembly Member Devon J. Mathis

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 5126, Sacramento, CA 94249-0026; (916) 319-2026

Jose Medina Dem – 61 Contact Assembly Member Jose Medina

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 5135, Sacramento, CA 94249-0061; (916) 319-2061

Anthony Rendon Dem – 63 Contact Assembly Member Anthony Rendon

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 5136, Sacramento, CA 94249-0063; (916) 319-2063

Rudy Salas, Jr. Dem – 32 Contact Assembly Member Rudy Salas, Jr.

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 2188, Sacramento, CA 94249-0032; (916) 319-2032

Das Williams Dem – 37 Contact Assembly Member Das Williams

Capitol Office

P.O. Box 942849, Room 4005, Sacramento, CA 94249-0037; (916) 319-2037

Here is AMRA’s letter in opposition to SB637:

To: Assembly member Marc Levine June 30, 2015
Chair, Water, Parks and Wildlife
Capitol Office
P.O. Box 942849, Room 2141, Sacramento, CA 94249-0010

Dear Representative Levine,
AMRA is submitting this letter on behalf of the thousands of members and supporters of American Mining Rights Association, a non-profit advocacy association in California which focuses on the small mining community in the United States, and more specifically for this bill, California.
AMRA and its supporters strongly oppose SB637 for the following reasons:
1) Suction dredging removes 98% of the elemental mercury from CA waterways during a dredging operation. (see: Rick Humphreys, Division of Water Quality, California Water Boards, 2005)
2) Many areas in which suction dredging takes place has no mercury whatsoever.
3) There is not one documented case of anyone in the State of California ever being sickened by eating any fish contaminated with mercury in any California stream or river.
4) Mercury toxicity cases have not been prevalent in the Sierra Nevada, even where mercury levels are known to be high — this may be due to mitigating interactions between mercury, lead, arsenic, and other chemicals. (See July 17th, 1981 University of Wisconsin Departments of Poultry Science and Nutritional Sciences study publication: Dietary Interaction Between Methylmercury, Selenium, Arsenic, and Sulfur Amino Acids in Japanese Quail)
5) Supporters of this bill claim that suction dredging methylate’s mercury. This is factually untrue. Suction dredging has been proven, time and again by numerous and exhaustive studies from accredited agencies and organizations, many times using tax payer funds, to remove 98% of the mercury in the California waterways. Methylmercury is not created by the process of suction dredging.
6) Mercury, in the context of mining, may be exempt from classification hazardous waste:
a. 40 CFR §261.4(b)(3) Mining Overburden
b. 40 CFR §261.4(b)(7) Mining and Mineral Processing Wastes (Bevill)
7) Mercury, itself is a valuable mineral subject to location, thus recovering it is by definition mining, and the product is clearly not waste unless it is disposed of improperly.
It is absolutely clear that removing 98% of a potential toxin from a waterway is a benefit to the environment.
1) Each and every year in which suction dredging has taken place in California waterways has resulted in the “cleaning” of the rivers and streams through the dredging process. Suction dredging removes nearly 100% of the lead lost during fishing and hunting activities. In one day alone (as presented during previous testimony before the EQ Committee) one suction dredger removed 1,200 lbs of lead in one day (Alan Trees).
2) Suction dredgers also remove many other heavy metals in the California waterways such as iron, steel, discarded batteries and other harmful environmental discarded items.
3) Fish habitat is improved by suction dredging. Concretized gravels are loosened by the process of dredging creating excellent spawning grounds which would not be created by Mother Nature. Suction dredging creates “hiding spots” for many aquatic species including fish and provide deeper waters which result in colder and more favorable habitat.
4) Many of us in the small mining community recall the USFS contacting our mining clubs after a large forest fire and asking the miners to “come and dredge to bring the fish back”.
5) The major majority of mining claims which have experienced suction dredging do not contain any anadramous fish (salmon and steelhead). California dams have blocked most of the old spawning grounds of these species.
6) Suction dredging is not, and has not been allowed during any spawning seasons of anadramous fish.
These facts also make it abundantly clear that suction dredging cleans California waterways and create and promote the California fisheries.
1) Clean Water Act, Section 502 General Definitions: (12) The term “discharge of a pollutant” and the term “discharge of pollutants” each means (A) any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source, (b) any addition of any pollutant to the waters of the contiguous zone or the ocean from any point source other than a vessel or other floating craft.
2) Without an addition, there is no discharge, and thus no basis for NPDES permit or WDR.
3) Material excavated and allowed to return to substantially the same location in literally a matter of seconds is properly defined as “incidental fallback”, which is explicitly exempt from the CWA definition of “Discharge of Dredged Material” (See Clark Pearson’s Incidental Fallback Fact sheet, Pg. 15 of the EQ Binder, and the EPA Tulluch Conforming Decision Q&A).
1) According to the statistics provided by ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal, November, 2006, a total of 3,523 suction dredge permit holders spent approximately $8,967 on expenses including groceries, restaurants, camp fees and other living expenses in 2008, for a total of $31,590,741.
2) A total of 3,523 suction dredge permit holders spent approximately $4,304 on gas, oil, equipment maintenance and repairs in 2008, for a total of $15,162,992.
3) A total of 3,523 suction dredge permit holders spend approximately $8,608 on a suction dredge and related equipment every four years for a total of $7,581,496 per year.
4) Six out of 58 California counties collected $1,701,088 in property taxes.
5) The State of California collected $219,213 in dredge permit fees.
6) The known expenditures by suction dredge permit holders in 2008 amounted to approximately $56,255,530.
Rural communities in California have relied on this revenue to sustain their businesses. These same business owners are hurting, and many have had to close their doors as a result of the schemes created to further the attack on suction dredging. Many of these owners are having to alter their plans for their families, their children’s college aspirations and are devastated by this on-going and unnecessary attempt to further the economic destruction of the rural communities.
1) Fund studies to help determine best practices for mercury remediation in the process of dredging.
2) Craft legislation which would encourage the removal of mercury from waterways by small-scale operators, including a system for separation from gold and subsequent collection of mercury.
3) Establish volunteer program for miners to assist with remediation and habitat restoration projects, both in and out of the rivers.
4) Investigate use of appropriate techniques and technology to effectively suppress methyl-mercury formation and remove mercury contamination from the environment where possible.
In conclusion, SB637 is a bad bill for California, the rural communities, the poor and those responsible stewards of our public lands, the small miner of California. We strongly urge you, and all members of this committee to vote no on this destructive bill.


Mr. Shannon Poe
President, AMRA
American Mining Rights Association
PBM #607, 6386 Greeley Hill Rd.
Coulterville CA 95311

Leave a Reply