During Clinton’s 11th hour, he initiated a number of policies that protected the environment; some of those regulations have remained in force, including the protection of almost 60 million acres of roadless areas. According to an article in Nature this week (and the OMB Watch, a Washington DC-based advocacy group), Bush is gearing up to do the exact opposite. On the list for potential midnight rollouts of new [anti] environmental regulations include the following:
1) New environmental regulations for factory farms. The EPA says that the regulations would curb the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment entering waterways, and farm operators have greeted it with cautious optimism. But environmentalists say a loophole in the rule would scale back environmental protection by effectively allowing operators to police themselves — on these and other requirements — under the Clean Water Act. When has self-regulation ever worked in such contexts?
2) New rules that would make it easier for mountain-top mine operators to dump debris in streams. Great idea.
3) New laws that would ease air-quality restrictions on power plants operating near national parks and wilderness areas, and would make it easier for utilities to update old power plants without triggering a requirement to install modern pollution controls. Just the kind of climate change leadership that nations will be looking for from the US as we approach the Copenhagen meetings in 2010 (the next Kyoto Protocol).
4) New regulation that would scale back the requirement for Endangered Species Act consultations with federal biologists on projects such as roads and pipelines. Lovely.
5) And a new rule that would require the Department of Labor to conduct risk assessments for toxic chemicals on an industry-by-industry basis. The new rule would make such assessments more difficult and the resulting standards less protective. Maybe this is a new less government via more government approach toward human health and protection.
Let’s hope the Obama is more skillful and successful in quickly undoing these potential midnight regulations than Bush was undoing Clinton’s…