No one in the government seemed certain yesterday which regulations were caught in the net of President Reagan's 60-day freeze on federal rulemaking.
The Reagan administration has compiled a list of 119 rules issued in the final days of President Carter's term, and it is these rules that are "candidates for postponenement," according to James C. Miller III, who joined the Office of Management and Budget to coordinate the new administration's deregulation campaign.
But the list was drawn up so rapidly that he and other officials have not yet identified which of the regulations on it the administration wishes to take action against, nor do they yet know which ones are legally within their power to alter.
A check of the Federal Register's file of regulations scheduled to be printed in its "rules going into effect today's column over the next 60 days, however, turned up a number that would seem likely to attract administration fire. Among them:
A Labor Department rule that would apply federal wage regulations to service employes of contractors in the timber-cutting industry and in the research and development field. A White House official called that "an unnecessarily expansive definition of the act." He added that the rule was "controversial, it was done in a hurry and it is a candidate for reconsideration."
The Environmental Protection Agency's plan to list the Hawaiian tree snail as an endangered speices.
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule, called the walkaround standard," that would entitle employes accompanying OSHA inspectors on their rounds to be paid for the time spent with the inspector.
OSHA spokesman said that rule is already in effect and cannot be easily halted without major legal action and public hearings. The status of several other rules on the Federal Register list, all presumably now frozen, was unclear, while the administration said its list contained at least one rule that did not appear in the Federal Register file: water pollution standards for the timber industry. "That one deserved to be rethought," a White House Official said.
Some rules cannot be postponed because they are governed by court-ordered or legislated timetables. "We aren't going to ask the Cabinet members to break the law," Miller said. Postponement, he continued, will allow the Reagan team to "put in place the new regulatory management program we're developing."
The 119 rules the Carter administration published between Dec. 29 and Jan. 23 was a 40 percent increase over the same period last year, Miller said. "A lot of things were pushed through that won't pass the litmus test in this administration."
According to another White House official, several categories of regulations are not covered by Reagan's order, including Internal Revenue Service rules, regulations related to federal procurement and those related to agency or department organization, managemen or personnel policies.
Morover, the administration doesn't intend to freeze regulations that serve to lighten regulatory burdens, the official said, though the Federal Register list contains at least two rules that would grant waivers to various automakers to ease the impact of pollution control standards.
The freeze does not affect the 16 independent federal regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"Nothing in this order addresses what will be done to the substance of any regulation," said Jeff Esienach, special assistant to Miller. "Generally the regulations will be examined in terms of cost-effectiveness." He said the ones chosen for action could be subject to "a number of initiatives, which could be implemented through executive orders or memoranda or just jawboning, or proposals to [Capitol] Hill. We're just not ready to speak to what proposals will drop out of the basket."