According to the complaint, the State of Oregon is in violation of Federal Law
April 23rd, 2013
Grants Pass, OR – Southern Oregon’s oldest profession is currently under attack by legislation that is currently being considered by the State Legislature. For over 160 years, especially during hard economic times, people in Southern Oregon have looked to the area’s hills and streams for an income, gleaning gold and other valuable minerals from the land through hard work and sheer determination. In 1872, the United States Congress granted the People of the United States with a protected right to go upon certain tracts of the nation’s vast Public Domain to search for and to extract valuable minerals such as gold, silver, copper and platinum.
As the Second Pan American Scientific Congress explained it in 1917, “This was the first instance where a sovereign broke away from the old regalian right and voluntarily ceded to her citizens as a gift, all her mineral wealth on the sole condition that the citizen should go out and possess it.”
Indeed, Congress had “revolutionized the whole land policy of the Government, abdicating in the name of the Nation its authority and jurisdiction over the richest mineral possessions on the face of God’s earth”, for the sake and welfare of its citizens.
In Oregon, this unique right of the American people is currently being threatened by the introduction of several senate bills, SB 401 and SB 838. The bills, which were introduced by Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland) and subsequently passed by the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee which is chaired by Senator Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland) and vice-chaired by Bates seek to ban placer mining on certain waterways and place a five year moratorium on all motorized mining inside the State of Oregon. The legislation is also being supported by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.
After most elected officials turned a deaf ear toward their concerns, miners within the Galice Mining District, which was organized in 1853 in what is today a portion of Josephine County, Oregon, voted unanimously on April 7th, 2013 to take legal action against Bates, Dingfelder, Kitzhaber and also Senator Peter Courtney who is the President of the Oregon State Senate. The miner’s lawsuit calls for a preliminary injunction against the anti-mining bills and requests that the federal government intervene to assess the legality of the proposed legislation.
“It’s our position that the legislation is patently unlawful,” said Kerby Jackson, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Galice Mining District. “We believe that the senate bills intend to usurp the will of Congress and are in violation of the 1872 Mining Act and the Oregon Admission Act of 1859, as well as Contract, Property and Supremacy Clauses of the United States Constitution and certain provisions of the Oregon State Constitution. We also believe that Mr. Bates and the other respondents are engaging in criminal behavior that is intended to violate the rights of miners in this state.”
“Federal law is clear,” Jackson said, “states and local governments may not ban locatable mineral mining”.
The case is being heard by the United States District Court based in Eugene, Oregon.
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