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People v. Rinehart

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20142
Nos. S222620, (Cal. Sup. Ct., 08/22/2016)

The Supreme Court of California held that the state's moratorium on the use of suction dredges to mine gold from rivers was not preempted by federal mining law. The case arose after an individual challenged his conviction for the possession and unpermitted use of a suction dredge. He argued that the the Mining Law of 1872 and the Surface Resources and Multiple Use Act of 1955 preempt any state law that unduly hampers mining on federal land. But the purposes and objectives underlying the laws do not require displacement of the challenged state law. They contain no express preemption provision, do not occupy a relevant field that would foreclose state regulation, and do not impose obligations that would make it impossible to comply simultaneously with state and federal law. The individual argues he holds a superior federal right to mine that allows him to proceed, notwithstanding impacts on other interests. But the federal statutory scheme does not prevent states from restricting the use of particular mining techniques based on their assessment of the collateral consequences for other resources.