Bush weakening enviro regulations to the very end

For the past eight years, we’ve watched—painfully—as the Bush administration mucked up the environment over and over again. From not endorsing the Kyoto Protocol to suppressing scientific evidence of global warming to renegging on a campaign promise to clean up coal-fired power plants to weakening the Endangered Species Act, the past several years have been a low point for green legislation and regulation. And now, when there finally may be a light at the end of the smog-filled tunnel, Dubya’s fixin’ to weaken environmental regulations even more before he leaves office in January.

According to today’s Washington Post, the administration has as many as 90 new regulations in the works, a good handful of which would adversely affect the environment. For one, a rule under final review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would get rid of environmental impact statements required for fisheries management decisions. Another regulation aims to allow power plants to pollute more, while an additional rule would lower limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks.

The list goes on and on, and t’s sickening. What’s also sickening is the gaggle of industry lobbyists who are rushing up to the OMB’s door like trick-or-treating children on Halloween.

From the Post:

The burst of activity has made this a busy period for lobbyists who fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.


According to the Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory calendar, the commercial 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.

What’s worse is once these regulations are put in place (even if they are during Bush’s eleventh hour), it will be very difficult for the new administration to overturn them.


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 mandating reanalysis.


“They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office,” said Matthew Madina, 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. He called the coming deluge “a last-minute assault on the public…happening on multiple fronts.”

All we can say is that the new administration (fingers crossed for the greener of the two candidates) cannot take office soon enough. After the big voting results are announced, check out for a piece analyzing how the new prez can undo the environmental damage wrought by the Bush adminstration.