Update on California, SB637 and permits for any motorized mining in California:
SB637 was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown Jan 2nd. It states you need a permit from the CA Water Board who then states you need a 402 or 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Is this confusing yet? It states you can be fined, equipment confiscated and even jailed if you fail to obtain this (unobtainable) permit from them.
We all know the intent of the bill is to delay, delay and delay some more and there is no actual intention to issue permits. As an example, look to the original moratorium on suction dredging back in 2009, it was supposed to expire. Did it? Of course not.
Well, let us describe what we are doing, and it is time to go public with this.
We physically went to the CA Water Board in Rancho Cordova a few weeks ago and met in person with the supervisor in charge of all permitting for the Water Board. Also in this meeting was the Mining Inspector for the State Water Board. We asked them specifically “we are small miners and are here to get our permits to suction dredge our Federal Mining Claims here in California, what do we need to do right now to get one”.
A blank look came across their faces. They did state they had “heard” the bill had passed but had zero direction from anyone on implementing this procedure of issuing permits as required by the new law. They were trying to tell everyone to “go to our website and read the frequently asked questions”. We know……..laughable.
Well, since we were actively involved in trying to stop this horrendous bill along with about 500 of our mining friends, we explained in detail (for over an hour) exactly what the CA Water Board was supposed to do and that is to issue permits for mining. We agreed to meet back with them at a later date once we met with the Army Corps of Engineers.
We then went to the Army Corps of Engineers in Sacramento and met with them in person and filled out the paperwork for a 404 permit/waiver to dredge with a 3″ dredge on “The Office” AMRA claim in Mariposa County, as well as several other locations and counties in the state. There are no endangered species, no legacy mercury and no fish in any of these locations. The Army Corps by the way, does not answer to the Department of the Interior and Sally Jewel like the EPA. They answer to the United States Army and they don’t appear to be supportive of all this over-regulation. We have requested a waiver and subsequent talks with them have proven to be very favorable that this will happen.
So, after the Army Corps issue’s the waiver, we will then go back to the Water Board and demand a permit to dredge and run our mining equipment. When they deny the permit, this exposes this law to be purely prohibitive in nature and blatantly illegal.
We do know there are a few out there who will say “we don’t discharge and therefore no permit is needed”. Yup, we agree we don’t discharge and there is a net removal when a dredge operates. We remove 98% of the mercury (if present) and 99% of the lead, nothing is added. But, this bill, although not passed with the public truly represented (there was 25 to one in opposition to it) was in fact passed, and was in fact signed into law by the Governor. Just saying we don’t add pollutants will not stop you from being cited in CA, having your equipment taken and even jailed. Try telling DFG, who is already out there telling miners they can’t run anything other than a teeny-tiny shovel and a baby pan to mine, that they cannot cite you because you don’t add anything.
If the Water Board issue’s permits after we produce a waiver, then lets dredge. If they don’t, it will result in litigation and fundamentally, it will be proven this bill is nothing short of a prohibition on mining.
The reason we are making this public, is we encourage everyone to call the Water Board immediately and demand a permit to run your water pump, your dredge, or your highbanker. Here is their number:
Document who you talked to, the date and the content of the conversation (what they told you).
Then call the Army Corps of Engineers and ask for a 404 waiver to run your dredge (we recommend a 3 of 4″). They will send you, or direct you to their 404 permit on-line. Fill this out and if you are an AMRA member, list the Office claim (list the creek it is on). If you are a member and would like to list another one of our claims in CA, send us an email and we will help you. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a small miner and not an AMRA member, list your Federal Mining Claim.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District · Phone
1325 J St Frnt, Sacramento, CA 95814
Document everything, who, what, when, where as you communicate with these people. Remember folks, the Army Corps is NOT the enemy and has actively been working with the small miners.
This is primarily targeted directly at the Water Board. Lets prove they won’t issue any permits.
Obviously, there is much, much more going on behind the scenes we are working on, but this is the first step in exposing this horrendous bill for being the prohibition on small mining that it actually is.