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Bohmker v. Oregon

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20063
Nos. 1:15-cv-01975, (D. Or., 03/25/2016) (Clarke, M.J.)

A district court dismissed a lawsuit brought by individual miners and various mining groups, associations, and businesses challenging an Oregon law that temporarily bans instream motorized mining to protect water quality and fish habitat. The law, with some exceptions, temporarily prohibits instream mining that uses any form of motorized equipment within certain limited areas, including the beds or banks of state waters containing essential indigenous anadromous salmonid habitat. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief to prevent the enforcement of the law, which, they claimed, was preempted by the Mining Act of 1872. But the law is a reasonable environmental regulation that seeks to prevent pollution of the state's waterways. As decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in California Coastal Comm'n v. Granite Rock Co., 480 U.S. 572, 17 ELR 20563 (1987), federal mining laws and environmental regulations do not preempt this type of state law. Although Granite Rock held that federal law would preempt a state land use law that extended onto federal land to prohibit otherwise lawful mining activity, the law at issue here is an environmental regulation, not a land use law. Nor is it a complete ban on mining, as it only bans one particular method of mining in specific, protected areas.