The California Legislature is considering an amendment to Assembly Bill 1161 to insulate surface mining operations against nuisance liability.
The amendment would prevent any "mining activity, operation, or facility, or appurtenance thereof," from becoming a nuisance if two conditions are present. First, the operation must have "been conducted or maintained for commercial purposes by means of a quarry or a pit for more than three years from both the issuance or establishment of an active, valid surface mining permit, conditional use permit, or other land use authorization" and have a valid reclamation plan under SMARA. Second, the operation must not have been a nuisance at the time operations began. The proposed amendment also clarifies that the three-year period recommences upon any amendment or revision to a mining permit, or after an administrative penalty or injunction. The full text of the current version of AB 1161 can be found here.
AB 1161 would give mining operations protections similar to those enjoyed by agricultural operations, which are statutorily protected from nuisance claims. AB 1161 was first introduced last year, however, meaning that this "two-year" bill must advance out of the Assembly by the end of January, or it will be considered "dead." We will provide regular updates regarding this bill, as well as any additional legislative developments regarding mining in California.
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