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FEBRUARY 12, 2017


"Miners Under Seige"

with James Foley

Hour 1


Hour 2



About our guest: James Foley

James Foley is a retired UCLA Atmospheric Research Technician. He has been a gold miner since 1976. Jim is an avid outdoorsman, having lived in Alaska for 44 years. Since his retirement he now resides in the small, far northern California community of Hamburg, on the Klamath River.

 Starting in 1998 his gold mining activities inadvertently led him into the realm of becoming a private property and mining rights advocate for miners and natural resource users nation-wide. He never set out to be an advocate in the beginning. Jim was inextricably drawn into the political side of both mining, as well as property rights issues through the many misguided and oppressive laws and regulatory schemes of politicians and agencies influenced by radical environmental special interests.

Jim’s involvement in political mining issues began innocently enough when the state of Alaska decided to adopt EPA NPDES permitting for suction dredge mining in 1998. Once he became aware that NPDES permitting was actually designed for municipal wastewater facilities, it became obvious that suction dredges could not be classed under this designation. It was then that he determined to attend and comment on this issue during the open comment period.

Since that time Jim has retired and relocated to Northern California. Upon his arrival in the Pacific Northwest he was astounded and dismayed to find that suction dredge mining, as well as other rights and issues such as dams and hydroelectric, logging, ranching, grazing and farming were under full scale attack.

Environmentalists, as well as tribal interests had begun a campaign to wipe out all uses of our natural resources. Washington, Oregon and California were the front lines on the attack to stop our citizens from exercising their rights under law and dismantle the economic infrastructure of our nation.

For Jim, this began a concerted effort to educate himself in regard to natural resources, law, ethics, environmentalism, tribal activism and economics. This self education has served him well in that he has been able to testify and comment, not only for miners, but also for other natural resource users as well. He has been asked to speak for and provide vital information to entities such as; Oregon Cattlemen’s Assoc. Granges in three states, county government in both California and Nevada and state a federal legislators.

Jim has his own website which is mostly informational and geared toward Alaska and Alaskan information. Not much political on it, it is mostly a personal kind of website. This is the address:

He is also a member of The New 49'ers Prospecting Association, based in Happy Camp California, spokesman for the association, and on the staff of their Internal Affairs Department. Most miners will be familiar with this association, they have been at the forefront of all the political and legal mining issues for many years. Their website address is:

Jim has also created and administer two popular mining message boards; one is his own and the other is for the New 49'ers. The addresses are here:    There is a lot of mining, political and legal information here.

Jim's message board is here:


Pacific Legal Foundation asks Supreme Court to review challenge to California’s mining ban

Nearly two centuries ago, the Supreme Court recognized that the “unavoidable consequence” of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause is that States have “no power … to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control” federal policies that are otherwise consistent with the Constitution. California, unfortunately, has forgotten this important history lesson and needs the Supreme Court to give it a refresher.



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PLF has filed a petition asking the Court to review a challenge to California’s broad suction dredge mining ban. Our client, Brandon Rinehart, is a California miner who was criminally prosecuted for engaging in an activity on federal land that federal law encouraged him to do. His conviction under the state mining ban irreconcilably conflicts with federal policy.

The Mining Law of 1872 declares federal lands “free and open” to mining. The Supreme Court has confirmed that “[t]he obvious intent was to reward and encourage the discovery of minerals that are valuable in an economic sense.” Nearly a century later, Congress itself reaffirmed the nation’s “continuing policy” to encourage “the development of economically sound and stable domestic mining.”

Under our Constitution, “any state legislation which frustrates the full effectiveness of federal law is rendered invalid.” States have no authority to erect “obstacle[s] to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”

Yet that’s precisely what California has done by banning mining. Rather than regulating mining’s environmental impacts, the state imposed a blanket ban on this federally encouraged activity. Obviously, that undermines Congress’ purpose in encouraging mining.

Nevertheless, the California Supreme Court upheld the ban against Rinehart’s challenge, breaking rank with every other court to consider the question. The Eighth Circuit, Federal Circuit, andColorado Supreme Court have all held that a state goes too far when it “seeks not merely to supplement the federal scheme, but to prohibit the very activities contemplated and authorized by federal law.” The California Supreme Court also thumbed its nose at the U.S. Supreme Court, which thirty years ago held that states may regulate mining but “a state environmental regulation so severe” that it would render mining “commercially impracticable” would be invalid.

PLF’s petition asks the Supreme Court to intervene and resolve this conflict between the California Supreme Court, on the one hand, and the Eighth Circuit, Federal Circuit, and Colorado Supreme Court, on the other. The need for further review is all the more urgent because the California Supreme Court’s decision threatens to inflame already heated conflicts over the uses of federal lands.


The paramount authority of the United States federal government to make all needful rules and regulations concerning the public domain is long standing, and irrefutable. The United States has the “exclusive power” pursuant to the U.S. Constitution Art. IV § 3, Cl. 2, to both regulate and dispose of its lands.

The Supreme Court has without fail held that Congress’ power with respect to the public domain is “subject to no limitation.” United States v. Gratiot, 39 U.S. 536-37 (14 Pet. 526) (1840); United States v. San Francisco, 310 U.S. 16, 29 (1940); Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529 (1976).

The ‘exclusive” power of the United Stats extends to the regulation, and disposal of valuable minerals within applicable federal public domain lands. The General Mining Law of May 10, 1872, section 2319 of the Revised Statutes (30 U.S.C. 22 et. seq.) provides that the exploration, location, and purchase of valuable mineral deposits shall be "under regulations prescribed by law".

Section 2478 of the Revised Statutes, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1201), provides that those regulations will be issued by the Secretary of Interior for Bureau of Land Management lands, and for National Forest lands, by the Secretary of Agriculture. In short, the scope of the grant to acquire, and exploit applicable valuable minerals. As well as water rights on federal public domain lands pursuant to Mining Act of 1866-1872, is a legal issue which is determined solely by federal law.

That same “exclusive” power extends to all waters within federal public domain lands. State authority to administer water use, and rights cannot limit the United States constitutional power to dispose of its lands. E.g., U.S. Constitution Art. IV § 3, Cl. 2, Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529 (1976), Gibson v. Chouteau 80 U.S. 92, 99 (1872)

It is axiomatic that the scope of these federal grants is a federal question. United States v. Oregon, 295 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1935); Packer v. Bird, 137 U.S. 661, 669 (1891). “No State legislation can interfere with this right or embarrass its exercise.” Gibson v. Chouteau 80 U.S. 92, 99 (1872); See Hunter v. United States, 388 F. 2d 148, 153-54 989th Cir. 1967).

As a matter of law, the even the temporary suspension of vested federally granted mining rights, to proprietors of valid mining claims on federal public domain lands under 30 U.S.C. § 22, et seq., in California is not something the state of California can even possibly attempt to do. Unless it is foolish enough to secede from the Union, declare war against the United States, and attempt take federal public domain lands within the state of California, by force of arms. In which case, it will doom itself to annihilation.