Bush officials moving fast to cut environmental protections

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Bush officials moving fast to cut environmental protections

WASHINGTON — In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia.

The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there’s a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration.

The regulations already have had periods of public comment, and no further comments are being taken. The administration has proposed the rules and final approval is considered likely.

It’s common for administrations to issue a spate of regulations just before leaving office. The Bush administration’s changes are in keeping with President Bush’s overall support of deregulation.

Here’s a look at some changes that are likely to go into effect before the inauguration.

GRAND CANYON

Higher prices for uranium, driven by expanded interest in nuclear power, have resulted in thousands of mining claims being filed on land within three miles of the Grand Canyon.

The House of Representatives and Senate natural resources committees have the authority under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to order emergency withdrawals of federal land from future mining claims for three years, while Congress decides whether a permanent ban is needed. The House committee issued such a withdrawal order in June for about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, including the land the claims were filed on.

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