Leniency for California Miners -- And a Call for "Top to Bottom" Reform of California Surface Mining Law


California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 447 on Saturday, September 28, 2013, which modifies the Office of Mine Reclamation’s (OMR) authority to list or delist a mine from its list of “good mines” under Cal. Public Resources Code Section 2717 (more commonly referred to as the AB 3098 List).  Mines on the AB 3098 List are eligible to sell to public agencies.

SB 447 allows mines to remain on the AB 3098 List while correcting violations pursuant to an order to comply.  The existing law requires compliance with state reclamation and financial assurance standards, but does not specifically address situations where mines are actively working to resolve violations.  For a discussion of problems with the AB 3098 List, see Tom Henry’s November 2011 post.

In his signing statement, the Governor referred to SB 447 as “interim leniency” that is “only acceptable as we take the time to reform the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act [SMARA] -- from top to bottom.”  The Governor has not indicated how he plans to reform SMARA, so stay tuned for the second half of the legislative session!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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