In one small step toward cost effectiveness, the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition had decided not to propose controversial new regulations aimed at breaking up restrictive shopping center lease provisions.

Bureau director Al Dougherty Jr. confirmed yesterday that his staff has decided against promulgating the rules.

Staffers said that the practices covered by the proposed rule were already illegal under other laws, making new rules unnecessary.

The proposed shopping center rules grew out of a 1975 FTC case against several stores in Tysons' Corner shopping center in Virginia.

At that time, the FTC alleged that several of the larger stores in Tysons had illegal clauses in their shopping center leases giving them veto power over any other stores wishing to come to the center.

It seemed that larger department stores wanted, and received, assurances that other types of stores that could hurt business, such as discount houses, would be kept out.

In the Tysons case, all but one store entered into consent agreements with the FTC to stop the practices. City Stores fought the action at the FTC, and lost.

"The new rules would serve no useful purpose," one FTC staffer said. "A trade regulation rule is appropriate to clarify an ambiguity in the commission's law enforcement policy. But there is no confusion on the part of the FTC, the industry of the public as to the illegality of those restrictions."

The staffers said, too, that it appeared the illegal practices had been discounted for the most part.

Some clauses that are not clearly illegal or restrictive, such as radius clauses restricting the right of a tenant or landlord to operate a competing store or center within a specified distance of a particular center, also did not require a trade rule, the staffers said. Such cases are generally unique, and not susceptible to general regulations, they said.

Those health and safety regulators facing tough congressional budget cutters may have the last laugh after all.

During the congressional recess, painters were sprucing up the subway tunnels under the Capital with spray cans - clearly marked asbestos-containing paint.

The White House has announced three major appointments in the area of consumer advocacy.

Rodney E. Leonard, formerly chief executive officer of the Community Nutrition Institute, a food and nutrition group, has been named deputy director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs under Esther Peterson.

Leonard, 48, has been on Peterson's staff since her White House office took control of the controversial USOCA from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare six months ago.

Edward Cohen, 29, has been named general counsel of the consumer office. Cohen has been serving as Peterson's special counsel since April 1977, and prior to that was counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee.

The third appointee is Midge Shubow, 30, who is moving from her job as Peterson's press secretary and speech writer to become director of USOCA's office of information.

The appointments cap six months of turmoil at the consumer office, where several employes have expressed displeasure with past hiring and advancement practices.

The Enviromental Protection Agency has made the complete legal opinions of its general counsel available to the public in book form from the Enviromental Law Publishing Service of California.

The opinions include formal and informal interpretations of EPA statutes and regulations, many of which carry the force of law.

The loose-deaf volumes will be supplemented by a current update service sending out new opinions as they come down, a spokesman for the publisher said.

The volumes are available from the Environmental Law Publishing Service, a subsidiary of ABC Publishing, 20675 Bahama St., Chartsworth, Calif. 91311