Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) has blasted the Carter administration's regulatory reform efforts, in particular calling the newly created Regulatory Council a disguised enemy of regulation.
In a speech at the University of Michigan last week, Muskie called the mood of the White House "antiregulators" the "principle threat to the enviroment as we close in on the environmental decade of the 1970s."
"No one supports regulation for its own sake," Muskie said, "but the mood of antiregulation seems to make no distinction between good and bad regulations."
Muskie said, "The environment is under attack from people who only believe numbers and figures," in an obvious reference to the Office of Management and Budget and the Regulatory Council. "To counter their efforts, we will need better evidence of health effects, better evidence of trends in environmental degradation and better techniques to measure pollution and its impact."
Muskie referred to the creation of the Regulatory Council as a "troublesome event." That group was set up by President Carter to develop a list of priorities in a regulatory calender in an effort to prevent duplication and encourage coordination among the many regulatory agencies in Washington.
"All too often the discussion of environmental pollution and economic well-being are plagued by a distorted concept of costs," warned Muskie, who said the words "cost-benefit analysis" are "probably on every memo and everyone's mind."
The Regulatory Council, which is composed of members of the various regulatory commissions and agencies, is also encouraging the various agencies to make cost-benefit analysis a major aspect of all regulatory proposals.
But Muskie said the White House efforts "to second-guess, and third-guess, environmental rules may have a chilling effect on aggressive efforts to curb pollution.
"We must not allow the attacks of analysts who emphasize industry costs and ignore broad societal values to deter efforts to provide needed environmental programs," Muskie said.
White House staffers yesterday defended their regulatory reform efforts, including the creation of the Regulatory Council. "We don't think anything is wrong with White House official, who asked better management," said one not to be named. "The council is a creature of the regulators themselves, and was created to help them get a handle on environmental matters, not to cut off enenvironmental regulation.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief counsel Joseph Levin has resigned to go to work for the Washington law firm of Charles Morgan Jr. & Associates.
Levin had been at odds with NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook over the Firestone Tire case. Staffers report that while Claybrook continually prodded Levin to move quickly toward legal action against Firestone for allegedly stalling its recall of the steel-belted 500 radial, he repeatedly threw cold water on her requests.
But both Claybrook and Levin, who says he looks forward to working on the controversial Sears case challenging government attempts to force equal opportunity hiring, now say only the nicest things about each other.
The nickel phone call is not yet a thing of the past, according to the U.S. Independent Telephone Association.
Although American Telephone & Telegraph Co. last month said its final farewell to the nickel call when its South Central Bell Telephone Co. raised its fee to a dime, the USITA reports that at least five non-Bell System companies are still charging a nickel.
They are the Telephone Service Co. of Wapakoneta, Ohio; New Knoxville Telephone Co. in New Knoxville, Ohio; the Beggs Telephone Co. of Beggs, Okla.; the Taconic Telephone Corp. in Chatham, N.Y.; and the United Telephone Co. of Arkansas.
There are more than 1,500 independent (non-Bell System) companies in the U.S., serving 31 million phones, a surprising 20 percent of the nation.
Despite the fact that several regulatory agencies are nearing the time they will be dissolved or cut back, the latest round of budget proposals indicates the White House isn't moving too quickly toward those ends.
The Civil Aeronautics Board, for example, which is scheduled to be eliminated entirely by 1985, would only cut back from 830 to 819 people next year.
And the Interstate Commerce Commission, which the administration is seeking to curtail considerably through legislation, is threatened with a cut of only 43 positions, out of 2,180.