For the first time since 1993, the Bureau of Land Management has revised its fees for mining claims (HCN, 3/8/93: Mining reform may hit paydirt in 1993). Now, to mine or drill a claim on BLM land, users will have to pay a $30 one-time claim fee, plus $125 per year — unless they’re "small entities" with fewer than 500 employees and less than $5 million in annual revenue. The agency expects the 25 percent boost in rates to raise $38 million annually.

More scientists are signing on to protest the White House’s misuse of science (HCN, 3/1/04: Follow-up). In July, the Union of Concerned Scientists updated an earlier report on federal science to include mountaintop-removal mining, salmon management in the Northwest, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s management of bull trout and swans. The 4,000 scientists who signed on in support of the report include 48 Nobel laureates and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the largest proposed timber sales in recent history apparently isn’t big enough to satisfy the timber industry. The American Forest Resource Council, a trade group representing private landowners and mill owners, has filed a lawsuit to speed up "restoration" or logging of areas burned by the 2002 Biscuit Fire (HCN, 6/21/04: High-stakes logging plan gets go-ahead). Says AFRC president Tom Partin: "If this is the best our federal government can do to rehabilitate and restore this area, then it is time for Congress to take a serious look at modernizing and updating our environmental laws and put some common sense back into natural resource management."

The wrong waste has been going to WIPP: In mid-July, the New Mexico Environment Department found that mixed waste, including explosives, from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory had been trucked to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico, which is licensed to accept only transuranic radioactive waste (HCN, 9/1/03: Follow-up). "We suspect this has been happening since March," says Jon Goldstein, a spokesman with the state. Some improper shipments have been turned back en route to WIPP, while others have made it underground and into the salt caverns.

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