BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





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          |                                                                 |
          |         SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER         |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2011-2012 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |
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          BILL NO: SB 792                    HEARING DATE: March 22, 2011  

          AUTHOR: Steinberg                  URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: As Introduced             CONSULTANT: Bill Craven  
          DUAL REFERRAL: Rules               FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Surface mining: mineral resource management policies.  
          
          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          The Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) is the state law 
          that authorizes and regulates mining activities in California. 
          It applies to mining of precious metals as well as the mining of 
          sand and gravel. In general terms, the law generally requires an 
          environmental analysis of the proposed activity, adherence to 
          the laws and regulations that govern operations, and the mine 
          reclamation requirements which are enforced by the Department of 
          Conservation and the State Mining and Geology Board and 
          financial assurances adequate to ensure compliance with a mine 
          reclamation plan. SMARA generally designates local governments 
          as the lead agency for purposes of approving mining activities. 

          However, the identification of regionally significant mineral 
          resource deposits is an important component of SMARA that is 
          administered at the state level. This is accomplished through 
          two processes known as classification and designation. 
          Classification is the process by which the California Geological 
          Society identifies lands containing significant mineral 
          deposits. Classification may be initiated by a member of the 
          public and must be approved for further consideration by the 
          state geologist. 

          On the other hand, the California Mining and Geology Board 
          (Board) is responsible for the second phase, which allows the 
          Board to designate areas within a production region that contain 
          significant deposits of certain mineral resources that may be 
          needed to meet the region's future demand. Designations are 
          recognized under the California Environmental Quality Act 
          (CEQA). For purposes of evaluating a future project under CEQA, 
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          a lead agency has to inform the state geologist of a project 
          that may impact a designated resource and explain why a proposed 
          land use may be approved despite the designation of the 
          resource. 

          In the CEQA guidelines, an impact related to a mineral resource 
          is considered significant if it would either result in the loss 
          of availability of a known mineral resource that would be of 
          value to the region or result in the loss of availability of an 
          important mineral resource site delineated on a local general 
          plan, specific plan, or other land use plan.

          As for classifications,which is the subject of SB 792, the state 
          geologist classifies lands into mineral resource zones (MRZ) 
          based on the known or inferred mineral resource potential of 
          that land. The classification process is based solely on 
          geology, without regard to land use or ownership. The primary 
          goal of mineral land classification is to help ensure that the 
          mineral resource potential of lands is recognized and considered 
          in the land use planning process. The MRZ categories are:
           MRZ-1: Areas where adequate information indicates that no 
          significant mineral
          deposits are present or where it is judged that little 
          likelihood exists for their
          presence.
           MRZ-2: Areas where adequate information indicates significant 
          mineral deposits
          are present or where it is judged that a high likelihood exists 
          for their presence.
           MRZ-3: Areas containing mineral deposits, the significance of 
          which cannot be
          evaluated from available data.
           MRZ-4: Areas where available information is inadequate for 
          assignment to any
          other MRZ.

          Additionally, SMARA requires local governments to establish 
          mineral management policies that meet specified criteria in Sec. 
          2762 of the Public Resources Code including requirements to 
          recognize the mineral information classified by the state 
          geologist and to emphasize the conservation and development of 
          identified mineral deposits. The plans are to reflect any 
          information about classified mineral resources and are to be 
          incorporated into a local government's general plan. 

          To the mining industry, classification and designation efforts 
          are important because on a regionally-specific basis, permitted 
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          and available sand and gravel resources are declining and 
          perhaps inadequate for future expected growth. These pressures, 
          largely related to development, have declined during the ongoing 
          economic and housing slump, but are expected to return in the 
          future. Additionally, the industry is concerned because access 
          to these resources is sometimes precluded by local land use 
          decisions. According to the California Geologic Survey, there is 
          a significant shortfall of locations that can produce the sand 
          and gravel that California will need in the next 3 decades. 

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would amend the required contents of the mineral 
          management policies so that these plans would "assist in the 
          management of land use that  affects access to  areas of statewide 
          and regional significance."  

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          The California Construction and Industrial Materials Association 
          and several of its members have expressed support for this bill 
          in order to help obtain in-state materials that are necessary 
          for public and private infrastructure projects in California and 
          to decrease the costly importation of materials across great 
          distances within California and even from other states and 
          nations. 

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received

          COMMENTS 
          By adding these three words-"affects access to"-in mineral 
          management policies, the author and sponsor believe that a more 
          robust discussion will occur with local governments concerning 
          land use decisions that may affect these resources. It is 
          important to point out that the industry considers this an 
          important but necessary first step since it not a regulatory 
          mandate on local governments. The bill does not change the 
          provisions of Sec. 2761 that pertain to compliance with CEQA or 
          the provision that local governments must notify the state 
          geologist when it approves land use decisions that threaten the 
          potential to extract minerals in that area. In other words, this 
          bill is an attempt to enhance the importance to local 
          governments of providing adequate mineral resources for their 
          communities and their regions when they make land use decisions 
          that affect classified resource areas. 

               

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          SUPPORT
          California Construction and Industrial Materials Association 
          (sponsor) 
          Vulcan Materials Company 
          Holliday Companies
          Basic Resources, Inc. 
          LeHigh Hanson
          A.Teichert & Sons, Inc.

          OPPOSITION
          None Received




































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