Action Alert: Protect Current Mine Reclamation Law

SACRAMENTO, 26 September 2011 – Mines currently considered abandoned by the State of California could get a “pass” from having to meet the requirements of current mine reclamation law, thanks to a bill now sitting on the Governor’s desk.  SB 108 (Rubio) consists of highly technical amendments to abandoned mine reclamation standards.  The bill passed without much public dialogue, and with almost no opposition.

“I believe that this bill compromises our state and local government’s ability to manage the mine lands that make up a vast majority of the state’s keystone watersheds,” notes Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund. “SB 108 is simply bad public policy.”

 

Current law requires surface mining operations that remain idle for more than a year with the intent to resume mining to obtain an Interim Management Plan (IMP).  Mines that do not obtain an IMP within the mandated time frame are considered abandoned and must be reclaimed. This is to prevent mines that are closed from adding to the legacy of abandoned mines so prevalent in California.

SB 108 would reclassify mines now considered abandoned as “idle,” and therefore eligible to be re-opened under reclamation plans and with financial assurances that do not meet current minimum statewide reclamation standards.  Mineral resources are vital and necessary to California’s economy, but SB 108 would reward irresponsible mine operators by imposing no consequences for ignoring State law in an attempt to pay lower annual reporting fees. Mining fees are based on reported mineral production.  SB 108 would allow mine operators who incorrectly under reported mineral production in prior years to simply file adjusted reports without provided verifiable proof of “corrected” production.

A sample letter of opposition to the bill follows.  Send your letter now, the Governor may act on this bill any day.

 

 


 

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

RE: SB 108 (Rubio)—Request for Veto

Dear Governor Brown:

I am writing to respectfully request your veto of Senate Bill 108. I believe that this bill compromises our state and local government’s ability to manage the mine lands that make up a vast majority of the state’s keystone watersheds. SB 108 is simply bad public policy.

Current law requires surface mining operations that remain idle for more than a year with the intent to resume mining to obtain an Interim Management Plan (IMP).  Mines that do not obtain an IMP within the mandated time frame must be reclaimed. The purpose of this is to prevent mines that are closed from adding to the legacy of abandoned mines so prevalent in California.

SB 108 would reclassify some mines now considered abandoned as “idle” and eligible to be reopened under reclamation plans and with financial assurances that do not meet current minimum state wide reclamation standards.  Mineral resources are vital and necessary to California’s economy, but SB 108 would reward irresponsible mine operators by imposing no consequences for ignoring State law in an attempt to pay lower annual reporting fees. Mining fees are based on reported mineral production.  SB 108 would allow mine operators who incorrectly under-reported mineral production in prior years to simply file adjusted reports without providing verifiable proof of “corrected” production.

Mines that have become abandoned should at least be required to obtain a reclamation plan that meets current reclamation standards prior to being allowed to reopen.  Mine operators should not be allowed to change reported production unless they provide verifiable proof that the information is correct.

For these reasons, I respectfully request your veto of SB 108. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you like to discuss our position on the measure or have any questions.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your contact information

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