Suction dredging permits halted by Alameda County court
The lawsuit was filed under the pretense that the DFG is illegally spending taxpayer money by issuing permits for a program for which it has been ordered to conduct an Environmental Impact Report, or EIR.
The EIR, which was ordered to be completed by June of 2008, has not yet been finished and the lawsuit calls for a halt of issuance of suction dredging permits until the EIR is completed and updated regulations are formulated, as per California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.
The court’s decision will essentially achieve that same goal, with the DFG ordered to stop “expending any money from the California General Fund to issue suction dredge permits,” according to a DFG press release. The suspension of permit sales will continue until a resolution is reached in the lawsuit, which could result in either the suspension continuing or a return to miners being able to purchase permits.
According to Tucker, the lawsuit is going after suction dredge mining in a different manner than Senate Bill 670, which is a bill that would place suction dredging under a moratorium until the DFG completes its EIR. He argued that the legislation is different from the litigation in that the lawsuit is addressing the budgetary practices of the DFG.
“The court decision does not preclude the need for SB 670,” Tucker said.
The groups involved with the legislation and the lawsuit are awaiting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision on whether or not he will sign SB 670 into law, and expect a decision within the next two weeks.
The DFG release said that suction dredging permits issued before the court’s decision will still be honored.