Bush and Cheney's Last Shot

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, October 31, 2008; 12:12 PM

Did we really expect President Bush and Vice President Cheney to go quietly?

R. Jeffrey Smith writes: "The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

"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. . . .

"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."

Emma Schwartz reports for ABC News: "Every administration tries to pass last minute rules in hopes of leaving a lasting mark. But experts say the Bush administration is expected to approve a greater number more quickly than previous administrations -- something they said could lead to bad and costly policy.

"'The administration wants to leave a legacy,' said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, which has been critical of these proposals. 'But across the board it means less protection for the public.' . . .

"It wasn't supposed to be this way. In May, Josh Bolten, then-head of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees regulatory approval, issued a memo barring new proposals after June. It also required that all new regulations be completed by Nov. 1.

"That hasn't been the case. Many proposed regulations have yet to be finalized and new ones have already come out since the June deadline.

"A spokesperson for OMB said in an email response that the Bolten memo 'wasn't intended to wholesale shut down work on important regulatory matters after November 1st, but to emphasize due diligence.'

"She added: 'Ensuring the integrity of the process is important to the Administration.'"

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