The big news and the 2022 AMRA dinner
Another AMRA dinner is completed and we want to sincerely thank the AMRA staff, vendors and volunteers for making this event hugely successful.
So how about our big news?
Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), one of America’s premiere constitutional law firms which focuses on cases when our government goes completely outside their authority and violates our constitution and/or someone’s individual rights has agreed to take the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) v Poe case on appeal…all the way to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.
This all started when suction dredge miners reached out to AMRA’s President Shannon Poe in 2013. The miners had been dredging Idaho’s South Fork of the Clearwater River for 60 years and stated when Mr. Obama’s EPA decided they control every drop of rain, rain barrel, creek, river and lake in America under Obama’s Waters Of The United States (WOTUS) rule. They were threatened with $37,500 per day fines if they didn’t purchase a pollution discharge permit and ask The EPA for permission to dredge their claims. Suction dredges DO NOT POLLUTE.
Mr. Poe, AMRA, attorney’s and even other mining groups looked deeply at the constitutionality and legality of this rule and the EPA to determine whether or not this was legal. It absolutely is not in our opinion. AMRA picked up a nice dredge claim on the river and Mr. Poe dredged, legally, with a valid state of Idaho permit to challenge this rule. After 3 different years of challenging the EPA, the EPA never once cited Mr. Poe for polluting or a violation of the CWA.
Upon completion of dredge season in 2018 a lawsuit was filed against Mr. Poe by Idaho Conservation League (ICL) claiming the EPA did not enforce the Clean Water Act. This case is where a citizen suit was brought against Mr. Poe where even though Mr. Poe suction dredged his “real property mining claim” with a valid permit from Idaho, the only permit the state stated was required for their river. They claimed he damaged the river by polluting because he did not purchase a permit from the EPA or ask for their permission. ICL claimed Mr. Poe polluted and destroyed their fishing grounds and that the EPA did not enforce the Clean Water Act against Mr. Poe when he dredged the SF Clearwater in Idaho. Again….with a valid and issued Idaho state permit to Mr. Poe to legally dredge their river on his claim which is the exact same regulatory scheme of the Clean Water Act by the EPA. The same permit Mr. Poe obtained each and every year he dredged.
Idaho Conservation league (ICL) is well known for using citizen suits to sue and settle to fund themselves and to enact their agenda of locking up public lands and our natural resources.
We must also point out that this tiny one month season to dredge is not during spawning season and was studied at length by Idaho and determined there is little to no danger to fish runs at that time.
Of note is after dredging in Idaho, the state required Mr. Poe reclamate the dredge area and when inspected after the short 1 month dredge period, they could not identify where Mr. Poe dredged because he returned the river to its near exact condition prior to dredging. Mr. Poe had to physically point out to Idaho Department of Water Resources where he dredged because visually, they could not identify where he dredged. ICL claimed irreparable harm to fish habitat and claimed Mr. Poe destroyed their fish habitat, this is the “damage” they claim Mr. Poe committed.
What Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) believes is that the EPA has once again over-stepped their authority under the Clean Water Act in stating suction dredges pollute, and that the EPA requires a pollution discharge permit for an activity which clearly and scientifically proves that it doesn’t add pollutants. PLF has also just recently won a case against the EPA at the Supreme Court on the Clean Air Act (West Virginia v EPA) which ruled the EPA over-stepped their authority, very similar to the ICL v Poe case. The EPA has essentially behaved like Congress and are making laws which they are prohibited from doing so by our constitution. Congress makes laws, not the EPA or even the President.
Suction dredges do not pollute. Nothing is added during the dredge activity but what does happen is the dredge removes pollutants like mercury, lead, old knives and lost lead fishing weights from the waterways. It should be encouraged as it cleans our waterways and creates perfect fish habitat. It does not ADD any pollutants period. In fact, we asked the EPA and even the California Water Board this: “of the 130+ pollutants listed in the CWA, what pollutants are added during the dredging activity which is required” They could not answer that question and refused to.
IF YOU DON’T POLLUTE, YOU DON’T NEED A PERMIT. Hmm, maybe this is a new AMRA T-shirt?
Do you need a pollution discharge permit to pick up trash in a water filled ditch along a road? No. Oh darn, we may have just given the EPA a new reason to require trash collectors obtain their NPDES permit.
Another one of the arguments they make is that we add turbidity, which is not adding any pollutants that are not already in the waterway. Turbidity they say is when we dredge we create a tiny plume of sediment which is disturbed in the waterway and that is pollution. Should an elk be required to obtain an NPDES for walking through a stream, or a truck diving across one where the road doesn’t have a bridge? Yes, it’s that silly. The little plume a dredge creates is nothing compared to spring runoff each and every year or what a river looks like after a flood and again, nothing is added during the dredge activity. Are they going to sue Mother Nature? As an analogy, it is like they are saying you cannot ever vacuum your carpet for fear of getting a little dust on your coffee table.
The hypocrisy is stunning.
This is huge folks. This law firm is the best of the best and very rarely loses cases. They don’t take cases they feel they cannot win. They are quite confident this injustice against Mr. Poe and all suction dredgers is illegal and unconstitutional. They also are looking at the constitutionality of these citizen suits which are the primary funding source for many of these environmental groups and may in fact even challenge those.
How does this affect states like California and Oregon?
Most states, like CA, OR and WA use the federal Clean Water Act as a bludgeon to enact prohibitions on activities they dislike like dredging. This case could deeply impact these states and the regulatory nightmares/schemes they’ve created which are in fact a prohibition on dredging. For example; We’ve been waiting since 2009 to “legally” dredge in California when they passed the original “moratorium” to evaluate whether dredges kill fish. That argument failed since we don’t kill fish so they moved to the “dredges pollute” argument with turbidity. The California Water Board (CAWB) was tasked with evaluating whether or not to “permit’ suction dredging with the passage of SB637 in 2015 and in 2017 stated they would permit it…but not on any waterways with gold. Shocker. They also have failed to offer those permits for the last 5 years claiming they could not because of C O V I D. This is like saying you need a drivers license to drive, but refuse to open up the DMV office…..for the last 5 years to get your license. It is a prohibition in CA plain and simple and one which is illegal in our opinion.
If we can win this case, no permit would be required for dredging under the CWA as it does not pollute.
Also in California, they even went to so far as to redefine what a dredge is to include anything mechanized or motorized which aids in the processing of material for valuable mineral recovery. They defined all of this as a suction dredge and therefore requires a CAWB permit….which they refuse to make available. Want to run a generator at night in the Mojave desert in a wash which doesn’t have water? Nope, that’s a dredge and is illegal. How about a post hole digger to loosen gravels along a dry stream bed, nope, can’t do that either.
It’s even illegal to store those within 100 feet of a waterway. We know of a man who was cited for buying a little 2″ highbanker, had it in his truck in his own driveway at his house after purchasing it at a garage sale and the CA Fish and Game officer cited him because his driveway was less than 100 feet from a dry creek bed. No kidding.
Proline Mining and Keene Engineering are currently in violation because each of those companies have what the CAWB declares as “waterways” and their manufacturing facilities are within 100 feet of a creek or ditch. The very act of UPS or Fed-Ex transporting a dredge to a buyer from these manufacturers to send to someone in Australia is a violation of the crazy CA law because they cross creeks during transport.
We will be posting about this case every step of the way folks and will keep you abreast of all actions we make on it. Right now the case appeal has been filed with the 9th Circuit and we are awaiting our trial date, likely in the Spring.
Where America is right now is alarming and terrifying. Our government, in our opinion is crazy with aspirations to make America into Venezuela or Cuba and it takes courage to stand up and fight this. They want control over your money, free speech, Dr. patient relationship and even your health.
We formed AMRA to fight for everyone’s rights and that is precisely what we are doing and will continue to do. It also comes at great risk to Mr. Poe and these fights take a lot of money. Please consider joining AMRA or making a donation, this is going to be one helluva fight. One can join or make a donation at americanminingrights.com.