RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Mining industry leaders cheered and environmentalists threatened legal action after the Bush administration announced a plan to repeal Clinton-era mining regulations as a step toward reversing declines in mine expansion and exploration.
The changes, announced Thursday by the Interior Department, eliminate the interior secretary's short-lived authority to block new mines on federal land where they could harm communities and the environment.
The rules were adopted under President Clinton at the urging of environmentalists, but Interior Secretary Gale Norton put such "veto power" on hold when she took office in January.
The power will be eliminated for good as part of the new rules, scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday.
The Clinton regulations applied to U.S. miners of hard-rock minerals, mostly gold, silver and copper, which are common in Western states.
Conservationists said the changes will negate important gains that had been made in protecting the environment. They said they plan to sue.
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