The Reagan administration opened up a new front in its war on government regulation yesterday, formally targeting another 30 rules and nine paperwork requirements for possible change or elimination.
Prominent on the list were environmental rules on issues ranging from leaded gasoline to endangered species, and rules designed to end discrimination in hiring procedures, school athletic programs and educating the handicapped.
"We're not prejudging whether everything in these regulations is bad," Vice President Bush said at a press conference where the new list was unveiled. "There is nothing in our approach destined to diminish the quality of life and the quality of the environment . . . . We're trying to find a balance that has not been found in previous rules."
"There's an awful lot of people out there saying there's a better way to skin this cat," Bush added.
The vice president heads the administration's Task Force on Regulatory Relief, which earlier this year targeted 61 other regulations for review. Substantive action has been taken on about a dozen of them, from labeling regulations on meat containing powdered bone to reporting rules for university researchers. In almost all cases, the regulations were relaxed or eliminated.
The latest list of regulations from a wide range of federal agencies was designed in part to answer the concerns of state and local government officials and small businesses, Bush said. The list was compiled after the task force solicited and received more than 2,500 comments on existing federal regulations from a variety of industry, trade, professional and local government groups.
The regulations in question will be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and the agencies involved.
One of the targeted "regulations" is not really a rule yet -- a regulation requiring information inserts in prescription drug packages was put on hold by the administration before it could take effect.
Bush and his aides would not place a figure on what these 30 regulations cost the economy, saying not enough information is available.
Bush also released a list of nine paperwork requirements that will be examined. Chief among these are the record-keeping and reporting requirements associated with the food stamp program, the school lunch program, corporate mergers, nuclear power plant licensing, and grants for public transit systems.
In this round, the biggest winners among the groups that had objected to various regulations were state and local governments, which face a complex array of regulations when they administer federal programs and receive federal grants. Eighteen of the 30 regulations targeted yesterday and five of the paperwork rules were the focus of local government complaints. These included requirements that they set up merit hiring systems, construction requirements accompanying flood insurance and highway programs, and rules requiring grievance procedures for residents of subsidized housing.
"We're very pleased," said Bernard Chabel, a spokesman for the National Governors' Association, which had submitted a 117-page list of objections to existing regulations. "From the states' perspective a lot of these regulations could be simplified or done away with."
Another 16 of the regulations were the target of industry complaints, among them regulations governing the marketing of meat and poultry, requiring detailed descriptions of new chemicals to be sold, and prohibiting sexual harassment on the job.
"We say 'bravo,' " said Bob Ragland of the National Association of Manufacturers, which received an advance copy of the task force list. "This continues to add credibility to the Reagan administration's commitment to changing . . . what up until a year ago was an unchangeable attitude in this town -- that government was big brother."
But reactions among environmental, consumer and women's groups ranged from dismay to outrage. David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council attacked the review of the rule on the amount of lead in gasoline. The claim that lead pollution in the air is being sufficiently reduced by auto emission controls is spurious, he said, because the administration is trying to delay use of such controls on trucks.
"There are areas where we should be going forward and their rhetoric and actions indicate they're most interested in going backward," said David Lennett of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Judith Goldsmith of the National Organization for Women, said, "The proposed review indicated that, statute by statute and regulation by regulation, the Reagan administration is cutting back the protections we've built to prevent sex discrimination."