Bush Administration Rushes to Relax Environmental Rules Before Leaving

By Eliza Strickland | November 5, 2008 10:21 am

White HouseAmerican voters may have enthusiastically chosen to send Barack Obama to the White House as the next president of the United States, but the Bush Administration still has 76 days in office and seems to be making the most of that time by passing a host of so-called “midnight regulations.” Many of these last-minute rule changes relax environmental regulations, and watchdog groups say these controversial changes may be difficult for the incoming president to undo.

Some of the rule changes would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms. Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining [Washington Post]. If the rules take effect before inauguration day, the incoming Obama Administration would have to begin a long and complicated regulatory process to reverse them.

Environmental groups and good governance groups have joined together to call for a ban on these last-minute moves. John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation … said citizens are cut out of the process, allowing changes in U.S. law that the public opposes, such as rolling back protections under the Endangered Species Act [Reuters]. One of the rules would relax requirements that road- and pipeline-builders consider the impact of their projects on endangered species. Some of the other expected changes will allow increased emissions from power plants, factories, and oil refineries, and will permit coal mining operations to dump toxic waste in valleys and streams.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto defends the rules, arguing that the Bush Administration isn’t trying to push through an excessive number of midnight regulations, it’s just finishing up its final tasks. “The number of regulations under review has remained fairly constant. There is no great increase in the number of regulations that we are reviewing right now.” … Fratto also pointed out that not all the regulations would be viewed positively by business and industry. “Some of the regulations that are coming through I think are not, maybe not, particularly welcome by members of the business community” [AFP].

Image: flickr / ~MVI~

  • http://msn Jude

    The Bush administration is well known for its mediocrity, so it’s no use thinking that these measures are going to be beneficial for the majority.
    Let’s just hope the coming days are passing rapidly, it’s time for this administration’s end.

  • Rickard

    At least he probably won’t be pardoning any of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives or stealing the White House furniture and silverware and paintings, or removing all the Os from the White House computer keyboards.

  • Dashni

    Don’t give him any ideas, Rickard.

  • grrranny

    Given his past performance, we can rest assured that he does not act with the best intentions for the people of America in mind. Therefore I suggest that everyone keep a careful diary of all his actions of the last year of his reign. It will help to be able to see exactly WHAT he HAS done to us. Then it will be easier to fix, later. This is true of much of what this man has left as a legacy to us all. He AND all of his stupidly rich friends.

  • Karen E-R

    Why is this not getting more frontline publicity? Obviously the election took focus away from all else, but this is so important. This current administration is beyond reproach.

  • http://www.techsurvivors.net Kris

    From one of the articles cited:
    “While it remains unclear how much the administration will be able to accomplish in the coming weeks, the last-minute rush appears to involve fewer regulations than Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, approved at the end of his tenure.”

  • spha-odon

    appears as the old washington two step, (one step forward and two steps back)”the whore has been riding the beast all along”

  • Gary King

    Bush was picked because he is easily manipulated by those who are really in power. I think that’s why they also picked Palin, at the last minute.

  • FmntGirl

    Right up until the inauguration there are going to be these types of decisions made, that are not in the best interest of the majority of the American citizens. This was never what our founding fathers had in mind and I pray that the Obama Administration can swiftly reverse all of these catastrophies that destroy nature. God Bless the USA!

  • Salmon Warrior

    The horrible legacy and the damage wrought by the Bush administration will live on for perhaps a decade or more. Bush is quantifiably the single worst president in the history of the United States. He should have been impeached.

  • http://obamatalk.org Melissa Evan

    I am real worried about the next election. With everything that is occuring in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East (not to mention the economy) we definitely need a experienced leader. I’m far from convinced that Barack Obama or any of the Republican candidates so far have the experience or skills it takes to do the job the way it needs to be done. Being president of this country is an tremendously challenging job. Is there any man or woman out there with the experience, skill, and moral courage to do the job?


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