ACTION ALERT: Suction Dredge Bill passes Legislature, voice your support to the Governor

SACRAMENTO, 14 June 2009 – New protections for California’s people and environment are now only a signature away. Yesterday the State Senate joined the State Assembly in overwhelmingly passing SB 670 (Wiggins), a measure that will place a moratorium on the practice of a form of recreational gold mining known as suction dredging, with a bipartisan vote of 31-8.  SB 670 easily garnered the two-thirds vote in both houses of the State Legislature needed to send it to the Governor as a piece of “urgency” legislation which means it will go into effect immediately upon his signature.

Please take a moment to tell the Governor that you support this bill! You can send a letter several ways:

  • Or send your own letter by mail to:

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol
    Sacramento, CA 95814

  • Or fax your letter to: (916) 327-1009
  • Please also cc your letter to:

    Senator Patricia Wiggins
    State Capitol
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Fax: (916) 323-6958

The legislature is currently holding bills that pass until the budget is settled, however support letters can still be sent during this time, as his team will continue to analyze measures coming their way.  Opposition to this bill will also be sending letters, so it is important that you voice your support!

If signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger this moratorium will be in effect until an already court-ordered California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study is completed and new rules are implemented to deal with the myriad of problems suction dredging causes including damage to fish habitat as well as remobilization of legacy mercury and the possible increased risk of mercury poisoning to humans and wildlife.

For several years, the Karuk Tribe located in the Klamath River basin in Northern California has been on the front lines of the battle to protect fish habitat and their traditional cultural practices from the devastation caused by suction dredging.  After the Senate vote today, Robert Goodwin, Karuk Self Governance Coordinator said: “We look forward to Governor Schwarzenegger signing this bill into law soon. Our fisheries need immediate relief and SB 670 is a big step in the right direction.”

After Monday’s vote Elizabeth Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund, one of the lead organizations supporting SB 670 noted: “Once again, this common-sense measure has earned bi-partisan support for immediate action. We request the Governor to sign this bill, and urge all Californians to support this action.”

In related developments, last Thursday July 9 an Alameda County judge granted the Karuk Tribe’s request for a preliminary injunction against the issuance of new suction dredge mining permits, effective immediately. The judge agreed that the issuance of dredge permits is a discretionary project subject to CEQA and that there is no valid CEQA document in existence. This order does not stop dredgers with 2009 permits from mining for the rest of the season, while SB 670 does. 

SB 670 has a broad base of support that includes various environmental and tribal organizations including; California Tribal Business Alliance, California Trout, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Planning and Conservation League, Ramona Band of Cahuilla, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Sierra Nevada Alliance and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation among others.

Click here to view Senator Wiggins’ press release

For more information about “Mining’s Toxic Legacy” visit The Sierra Fund mining page.