Guest Editorial SWRCB

Dredging, Fairness and the State Water Resources Control Board
by H.A. Miller
NOTE: This editorial may or may not represent the views of Prospect staff, management or advertisers




 Let me introduce myself, I am a gold dredger. 30 + years,so I consider myself an expert on the subject. I also am a recently retired California state employee, having worked 35 years for Cal Fire. I have experience with CEQA, so let me enlighten you on something.

CEQA is supposed to be a fair, honest, open and unbiased process with public input. At least it is supposed to be. There are also rules governing state employee ethics and conduct in everyday decisions.

I was at your scoping meeting in Sacramento March 5 th, 2012 to listen to the presentation. It was my intent to send in written comments on gold dredging and removal of mercury.


 THAT VERY SAME DAY I ATTEND this fair,open,unbiased public process,  the SWRCB sends a letter to the CDFG stating they support the NO dredging program alternative.

(Ban Gold Dredging !)  The SWRCB has taken this stand since at least May 10 th, 2011.                                   

These letters are sent on official letterhead with the state seal.

Not to mention the 500,000 dollars you gave to CDFG to help with their CEQA EIR that never even did a study with an actual dredge in a iver or stream !

 The SWRCB states (WITHOUT FACTS ) that dredging has "detrimental effects on the environment."

So much for a fair, open, unbiased CEQA process. So much for ethics.

Let me tell you a thing or two about ethics since your agency has NONE.

Not only was I taught fairness by my parents as a young man, as a State Fire Captain I believed in and preached HONESTY and INTEGRITY. I made sure my crew practiced the same in their everyday conduct as state employees. There is very little integrity in state government anymore. You have reinforced that fact. Perhaps firefighters are the only profession that has any ethics.

 Your unbiased, open and fair CEQA scoping process just went out the window with this news release on April 3, 2012 written by a host of environmental groups.  Let me quote the article.  " The U.S. EPA and California's State Water Resources Control Board have called for a complete ban on suction dredge mining because of impacts to water quality and wildlife from alleged mercury pollution."

Please define alleged. Please define ethics. Please define open and fair process.  I'm sure you can. Please define Honesty and Integrity. You can't because your agency has none.

There have been many studies showing dredging has a de minimis impact. Have you read any of them ? Or do you read just the lies and propaganda that the extreme environmental groups put out? These groups exist not only on  donations,but on suing our government to the tune of millions of dollars, which allows a tidy lifestyle for the executive officers of the organization and not much “on the ground” savings of species they purport to save.  Their tax returns are public record as a 501c.  How many more millions of taxpayer money will they waste ?

These same groups that claim people are dying from Methylmercury, yet they show no proof and our government believes it.  No one asks for proof ?

 This is from the CA.GOV | Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.


Can mercury poisoning occur from eating fish in California?


"No case of mercury poisoning has ever been reported from eating California sport fish."


That reads NO CASE !


I have read through the following report:

The Toxicology of Mercury and Its Chemical Compounds by Thomas W. Clarkson

Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York, USA and Laszlo Magos, Distinguished Alumni Professor Emeritus of Environmental Medicine, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics, and Pharmacology & Physiology

Retired from Medical Research Council, Toxicology Unit, Surrey, United Kingdom

This report is extensive; it cites studies throughout the world.

Stating on page 631, "This conclusion is of special interest since no clinical cases of methylmercury poisoning have ever been reported from consumption of fish where the source of methylmercury was the natural biomethylation process."


Perhaps you should read it too. In case you missed it, it said no clinical cases of methylmercury poisoning have ever been reported. ("where the source of methylmercury was the natural biomethylation process.")


This is the same process that the environmental organizations claim so many people in California

are sick and dying from.


I have found the following reference in an assessment done in 2004 by the California Department of Health Services.


"A key informant interview was conducted with Dr. Richard Ikeda, Executive Director

of the Health For All Clinics and Adult Day Health Centers, in Sacramento

on April 8, 2003. Key findings include the following:

a. Dr. Ikeda is not concerned about mercury exposure in his patients since he has never seen a case of acute or chronic mercury poisoning in Sacramento.

Rather, he is more concerned about exposure to arsenic and asbestos, and the over-consumption of high calorie foods that lead to obesity.


Perhaps you know about the petition filed by the Environmental groups in 2003 against the State of California to force the mercury scare down our throats so they could start suing.

It states ................

 "This petition is filed pursuant to the California Constitution, which guarantees the public the right to petition the government for redress of grievances [California Constitution Article 1, §3]. Additionally, this petition is filed pursuant to California Government Code 11347 et seq. This provision mandates a speedy response or a public hearing [California Government Code § 11347.1; California Government Code §11346.8(a)]."


This petition forced the state of California to do some of the following which continues today ;


1) Launch an aggressive multi-media campaign including public service announcements and commercials for radio and television, consumer alerts for newspapers and magazines and educational billboards and posters to be displayed prominently in key locations throughout the state.

2) Distribute these materials to public health agencies, family planning centers, obstetricians, pediatricians, public and private hospitals, cardiological health centers, medical associations, medical schools, midwife and nursing associations, seafood retailers and restaurants, and catering enterprises.


Environmental groups (the petitioners) addressed two California state agencies. The California Department of Health Services, and The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. And they claim in this petition and I quote "scientists and health care professionals have reported a number of cases of patients that have elevated levels of mercury in their bloodstream and who suffer from related disorders and disabilities.”  They lie and distort the truth to further their agenda.


NO ONE HAS SHOWN THE PROOF OF HARM, studies have been ongoing for 30 + years, and our own State agency ( Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) States " No case of mercury poisoning has ever been reported from eating California sport fish."


Since the SWRCB has already made up their mind against the benefits of removing mercury from our rivers by gold dredges, I want to make clear the process of mercury removal by suction dredging does not contaminate the environment because small-scale suction dredging removes elemental mercury. Removal of elemental mercury before it can be converted, by bacteria, to methylmercury is a very important component of environmental and human health protection provided as a secondary benefit of suction dredging.


Another aspect of this whole scientific process which has not been adequately reviewed is the affects of naturally occurring selenium upon mercury in the watersheds. I find it curious that there is no mention of selenium in any of the “research” regarding mercury. You see, if there is selenium in adequate amounts within a watershed, it binds with the mercury making it inert. Which means it doesn’t methylate. The mercury can still be detected, but it is not bio-available.


Do to the fact that the SWRCB has already stated their official opinion on dredging well before starting the CEQA scoping process, I don't believe you are sincere about removing mercury from streams where it exists, It appears you would prefer to let rainstorms and mother nature disturb and move any mercury downstream. Studies have shown older dredges remove as much as 98 % of mercury encountered, and modern dredges (Jet Flare) may be as high as 99 %. It is a  irresponsible management practice to leave such large amounts of mercury in the rivers and streams when it can be SAFELY REMOVED.

In regards to this supposed fair, open, honest and unbiased CEQA process, let me quote a section from the California Administrative Procedures act which your agency must follow.

 11340.5.  (a) No state agency shall issue, utilize, enforce, or

attempt to enforce any guideline, criterion, bulletin, manual,

instruction, order, standard of general application, or other rule,which is a regulation as defined in Section 11342.600, unless the guideline, criterion, bulletin, manual, instruction, order, standard of general application, or other rule has been adopted as a regulation and filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to this chapter.

Enforce definitions; To impose (a kind of behavior, for example)

To give force to; reinforce.

Synonyms for enforce; accomplish, bring about, bring off, bring to pass,  effect, effectuate, enact, execute, follow through, fulfill, gain,  get done, manage, negotiate, obtain, perform,  reach, realize, see through,

Would a court rule you are attempting to enforce ? I think so.

In closing, I plan to expose through lawful channels, this process and how any state agency such as the SWRCB can be so biased in a open, honest and public CEQA process.  This is simply "NOT GOOD GOVERNMENT" .



                                                                    H. A. Miller 




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