Environmental regulations governing hard-rock mining on federal lands are applied unevenly and without necessary expertise, the National Research Council said yesterday in a long-awaited report. A committee of the council identified “several gaps in existing regulations that need to be filled,” and said federal agencies need more staff, more authority, and better information. Still, the report found that current mining rules are “generally effective” in protecting the environment. Enviros aren’t convinced. Jim Jensen of the Montana Environmental Information Center said the council committee was stacked in favor of the mining industry. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is pushing for tougher rules for hard-rock mining.

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