Scumbag Bush not Done Being Scumbag
Bush plans controversial deregulation before he goes
Friday, October 31, 2008 2:56 AM
By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON -- The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January, and many of them would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.
Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.
"They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office," said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration's penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "This administration has taken extraordinary measures to avoid rushing regulations at the end of the term. And yes, we'd prefer our regulations stand for a very long time -- they're well-reasoned and are being considered with the best interests of the nation in mind."
As many as 90 new regulations are in the works, and at least nine are considered "economically significant" because they impose costs or promote societal benefits that exceed $100 million annually. These include new rules governing employees who take family- and medical-related leaves, new standards for preventing or containing oil spills, and a simplified process for settling real-estate transactions.
The burst of last-minute activity has made this a busy time for lobbyists who fear industry views will hold less sway after the election.
According to the Office of Management and Budget's regulatory calendar, the scallop-fishing industry came in two weeks ago to urge that proposed catch limits be eased, nearly bumping into National Mining Association officials making the case for easing rules meant to keep coal-slurry waste out of Appalachian streams.
As deadlines near, the administration has begun to issue regulations of great interest to industry. These include, in recent days, a rule that allows the nation's
natural-gas pipelines to operate at higher pressures and new Homeland Security rules that shift passenger security-screening responsibilities from airlines to the federal government. The OMB also approved a new limit on airborne emissions of lead this month, acting under a court-imposed deadline.
Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy-industry goal for the past eight years that Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups strenuously oppose.
One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits emission increases. According to the EPA, the change would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming.
Another new rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.