Regulatory Rollback: New Mining Rule Challenged

November 28, 2001


The fight over new mining regulations has hit the courtroom. On Nov. 16, 2001, three environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Depts. of Interior and Justice, seeking to overturn a new rule finalized Oct. 30, 2001 (effective Dec. 31, 2001). This case could affect existing and proposed mines on BLM lands in many Western states.

The new mining rule (43 CFR Part 3800) is the Bush-Admin's revision of the November 2000 Clinton-Admin mining rule, which was included in the sweeping regulatory freeze of early 2001. Opponents of the new rule contend that Interior has removed nearly all environmental performance standards, as well as the regulatory authority to deny mines. They also argue public comments were ignored in developing the final rule.

The lawsuit claims the new rule violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act's mandate to "prevent undue degradation" of public lands. Plaintiffs also seek to halt the rule from taking effect while this case is considered.

  • The Mineral Policy Center is the lead national environmental group in the lawsuit, and can supply filings and other info related to the case: Lexi Shultz (legislative dir.), 202-887-1872 x212, or Alan Septoff (press), 202-887-1872. Other plaintiffs include Guardians of Our Rural Environment (focusing on a mine in Yarnell, AZ), and Great Basin Mine Watch (a NV statewide group); contacts for both available through MPC.
  • Bureau of Land Management: Larry Finfer, 202-208-6913, or Bob Anderson, 202-208-4201. Oct. 25, 2001 BLM release and fact sheetabout the new rule. Full text of rule.