Ban on dredging for gold upheld by California Supreme Court
California’s ban on suction dredge mining for gold, a technique that extracts minerals from riverbeds while dumping residue that can include toxic mercury, was unanimously upheld Monday by the state Supreme Court.
The use of the high-pressure underwater vacuums, mainly in mountain and foothill waterways, has been regulated by the state since 1961 and prohibited since 2009. Brandon Rinehart, who holds a federal mining claim in the Plumas National Forest, challenged the ban. He argued that the state’s rules effectively prohibit gold mining in the area and that federal law forbids state interference with mining on federal land.
A state appeals court ruled in Rinehart’s favor and said a state may not impose restrictions that make federally approved mining commercially impractical. But the state’s high court said federal law for at least 130 years has left environmental regulation of mining largely up to the states.