SACRAMENTO, 28 August 2012 – Legislation that The Sierra Fund sponsored to strengthen the Surface Mining and Reclamation Action, Senate Bill 143 (Rubio), passed the CA Senate floor yesterday with 26 aye votes, 10 no votes and 4 not voting.
“The Sierra Fund and the Governor’s office worked closely with Mr. Rubio in developing this bill, and we are thrilled with its passage,” notes Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund. “Mr. Rubio and his staff were great leaders in this effort.” The bill is now on its way to the Governor’s office for his signature. Once it arrives there, Governor Brown has ten days to sign it into law.
Last year the Legislature supported amendments to the state Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) that helped to clarify how and when a mine can obtain “idle” status. The bill did not cap the number of extensions that a mine can file, leaving the possibility open that an idled mine could apply for unlimited number of extensions and remain idle for many, many years without being required to begin reclamation activities.
SB 143 built on the SMARA regulations adopted last year by addressing the number of times a mine can file for and receive an extension of their “idle” status, specifically by limiting the number of times that a mine can apply for extending their “interim management plan” or “idle status” to a total of two extensions. This will allow companies to idle their operation for an interim period while market demand is low and at the same time ensure that an idled mine will begin remediation on a reasonable timeframe.
The Sierra Fund’s Mining Initiative has documented the many devastating impacts of legacy mining practices that continue to threaten our state’s water and air quality. The mining reclamation standards of current law have only begun to help remediate the historic legacy of abandoned mines. ”As the price of gold goes up and pressure to re-open abandoned mines in the state increases, we need to make sure those mistakes from the past are not repeated,” stated Martin.