Authority to Deny Mines, Environmental Performance Standards, Taxpayer Protection, Corporate Accountability
The new 2001 rule follows through on Norton's March announcement of BLM's intent to revoke the strong 2000 rule and replace it with its outdated predecessor, written in 1980. Although the 2001 rule retains some elements of the 2000 rule, its practical ability to protect the environment is minimal. Although the 2000 rule contained many improvements over its predecessor, particularly important were establishment of (1) the regulatory right to deny irresponsible mines, (2) meaningful environmental performance standards, and (3) adequate reclamation bonds. The Norton rule removes the ability to deny mines, guts almost all environmental performance standards, but keeps bonding standards (with a caveat).
Following is a snapshot analysis of the new 3809 mining rule. Key environmental protections within the strong 2000 rule are classified as eliminated, substantially weakened, weakened, or unchanged within the new Norton rule.