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[GreenYes] Bush Administration Action on Several Environmental Rules
Bush Proposes Rollback on Mining Law
Wednesday March 21, 2001   2:00 am,3560,803549,00.html

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration will propose suspending
new environmental regulations on hardrock mining that were
imposed on President Clinton's last day in office over industry

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will announce
Wednesday it is reopening the so-called revised 3809 regulations
giving the government new authority to prohibit new mine sites on
federal land, The Associated Press learned.

The restrictions would remain in effect until July when the BLM
anticipates publishing new regulations the could lift the

``People have raised concerns about the new rules on both policy
and legal grounds,'' acting BLM Director Nina Rose Hatfield said
in a statement obtained Tuesday night by the AP. ``If there are
legitimate issues which need to be addressed, we should do so
sooner rather than later.''

The regulations require miners of gold, silver, uranium, copper,
lead, zinc and molybdenum on federal claims to post a bond
guaranteeing they will clean up after themselves. The reclamation
bond must be equal to 100 percent of the estimated cleanup cost.

Previously, mines disturbing less than five acres per year did
not have to provide a cleanup bond and companies could pledge
their own assets instead of putting up a cleanup bond.

The new regulations also give BLM's land managers the right to
deny a mining permit under some circumstances and to enforce
standards for assuring that groundwater supplies aren't

Hatfield pointed to four lawsuits challenging the 3809

``We want to avoid creating disruption and uncertainty for the
industry, the states and the BLM which jointly regulate the
mining industry, and the public,'' she said. ``It would be better
to address these concerns now in a thorough review rather than
have a partial implementation which may be delayed or
subsequently stopped.''

Mining industry officials welcomed the move while
environmentalists condemned it.

John Grasser, a spokesman for the National Mining Association,
said the regulations went beyond any law enacted by Congress. The
association is one of the groups that had challenged the
regulations in court.

``They're doing the right thing; it's a commonsense approach,''
Grasser said.

Lexi Shultz, a staff attorney for U.S. Public Interest Research
Group, said the administration has again ``caved to special
interests and put the environment at risk.''

``Mining companies often go bankrupt and that means they often
walk away leaving a mess that later become Superfund sites,'' she

The administration also announced Tuesday that it is rescinding
new Environmental Protection Agency standards reducing
permissible amounts of arsenic in drinking water by 80 percent.
Mining operations have been identified as one of the sources of
arsenic seeping into municipal water supplies.

Last week, the Agriculture Department moved to lift Clinton's
orders banning logging and road-building in about a third of the
nation's national forests and Bush reversed course on a campaign
proposal to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.


Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nev., contributed
to this report.

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100/Fax (608) 233-0011

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