Idaho House Committee Narrowly Advances Gold Suction Dredge Bill

Feb 11, 2015

A House committee has advanced to the full Idaho House a bill aimed at eliminating federal Clean Water Act protections for suction dredges and also opening Wild and Scenic Rivers to the miners.

The bill before the House Resources and Conservation Committee on Wednesday narrowly avoided dying in committee amid constitutionality concerns with a first vote that ended in a 9-9 tie.

The committee than approved by voice vote sending the bill the full House but with an amendment.

Republican Rep. Paul Shepherd of Riggins sponsored the bill and says that means other amendments can be attached.

An opinion by the Idaho attorney general says portions of the bill conflict with federal and state laws.

Miners told the committee the Clean Water Act shouldn't apply because suction dredges improve rivers.