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Karen Batra (202) 463-2651

November 27, 2000

Taxpayers Saddled With Cost of Unnecessary 3809 Rules

Implementation of new of program to cost $27 million

Under the guise of environmentalism, American taxpayers will be picking up the tab for a costly overhaul of the Bureau of Land Management's existing 3809 surface mining regulations. The new rules, published in the November 21 Federal Register, are in direct conflict with the findings of an independent study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences last year.

The National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council study was originally requested by the Western Governors Association when Interior Secretary Babbitt was either unable or unwilling to answer when the governors asked why new surface management rules were necessary. Congress appropriated $800,000 for the study in October 1998, and in September of 1999, the completed study showed that the existing regulatory program was sufficient in protecting the environment and any improvements in environmental protection could be best achieved through improved implementation of the existing rules. Despite these findings, the BLM continued to write new expansive, yet unneeded rules.

The National Mining Association has maintained that a massive overhaul to the existing system would be detrimental to the industry and cost America millions of dollars in economic revenue and thousands of high-paying jobs. By the government's own admission in its Environmental Impact Statement published last month, the new rules would cause decreased mineral production which would result in a loss of up to 6,050 jobs and up to $877 million in total industry output.

Also of significant consideration is the cost of the new program's implementation and compliance which, according to the EIS, would "require a 35% increase in the current expenditure level, or about $27 million," a cost which will be paid for by American taxpayers.

NMA President and Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Lawson has called BLM's efforts to rewrite the 3809 rules costly and unnecessary. "Since the beginning of this latest 3809 rulemaking process, the leadership in the Department of Interior has demonstrated a lack interest in answering a question that has been posed by the mining industry, members of congress and the governors of the western states that will be most seriously effected by the proposed rule: 'what are the deficiencies with the existing program?'" Lawson said, "We believe the states have done a great job in regulating the stringent existing environmental protection laws and we stand behind the modern mining industry's commitment to protecting the environment.

"It's ironic that the 3809 regulations are intended to protect taxpayers from paying for mistakes made by irresponsible practices. Yet, it is the taxpayers themselves who will be picking up the $27 million tab for this irresponsible and unnecessary regulatory rewrite," Lawson explained.

The mining industry must complete its in-depth review of the almost 2,000 pages of rules and ancillary documentation before it determines how to proceed.


The U.S. mining industry produces coal, metals, building materials, and many other essential minerals that define the daily lives of 267 million Americans. The mining industry generates over $500 billion in total economic benefit each year and helps to sustain nearly 5 million U.S. jobs.