To people like Anthony Roisman, who was chief hazardous waste litigator at the Justice Department under President Carter, Reagan's antiregulatory zeal is a problem, not a blessing. Roisman has been highly critical of what he sees as pro-industry shifts in environmental policies. But he said the fault lies not with the Environmental Protection Agency, but with the Office of Management and Budget, which must review all regulatory changes and additional paperwork burdens.
Among the EPA changes that have run smack into the OMB roadblock are the proposed standards for high-level radioactive waste disposal, the asbestos school inspection program and the ground water monitoring program. OMB would like the proposal for high-level radioactive waste disposal standards weakened on the grounds that EPA dramatically overestimated the benefits, underestimated the costs to industry, and set the risk level unreasonably low. OMB has questioned whether the federal government should be requiring asbestos inspection of schools, traditionally a local concern. And OMB rejected EPA's ground water monitoring plan, declaring that EPA failed to justify the additional costs and paperwork the plan would impose on industries and state and local governments. The monitoring is supposed to help EPA detect contamination of ground water near hazardous waste disposal facilities. OMB will reconsider the issue if EPA provides more supporting data.