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Suction dredge mining ban passes Senate 31-8
Sacramento, Calif. - A bill to put a moratorium on suction dredge mining until an environmental review is completed is one step closer to going into effect, according to press releases from the Karuk tribe and Senator Pat Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), the author of the bill.
Senate Bill 670 was passed with a 31-8 vote, with both democrat and republican senators giving aye votes, according to Craig Tucker, spokesman for the Karuk tribe.
Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) argued heavily against the bill, according to the Karuk release.
Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong also went to Sacramento to argue against the bill’s passage during one of the sessions, but reported at a recent meeting of the board that members of the public are only allowed to say whether or not they supported the bill and were not allowed time to argue their positions.
The bill will now go to the Assembly and if passed there, will head to governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, where it will immediately take effect if he signs it.
The environmental review referenced in the bill is the requirement of a 2006 court ruling in a lawsuit against the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The court ruled that the review must be completed within 18 months to determine the future of suction dredging in the state, however, the 18 month mark was passed in January of 2008 and the review has yet to be completed.
Wiggins, in her release, said that she believes it will take two more years of study before the California Environmental Quality Act review is completed and rules are updated.
“This is a classic instance [of] why we must use the precautionary principle to guide decisions,” Wiggins said in the release. “We must err on the side of the fish, because their survival is at stake. It simply doesn’t make sense to jeopardize an entire fishery, and to ask commercial fishermen to halt all fishing while allowing status quo for a recreational hobby.”
Wiggins also states in her release that halting the issuance of suction dredge mining permits will save the DFG an estimated $1.3 million in costs and that the ban does not include non-motorized techniques such as gold panning.
Tucker added that the bill has “good momentum” now but that anything can happen in the Assembly.
Page Updated: Friday May 29, 2009 02:25 AM Pacific
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