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Bush kills rules on the way in & blocks them on the way out

From Andy Card to Josh Bolten – Bush sells out public to Corporate interests. Ideology and political power trump science and facts
Today’s NY Times story on Bush administration policy prompts historical reflection – and repeats a deeply disturbing pattern. (Administration Moves to Avert a Late Rules Rush http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/31/washington/31regulate.html?ref=us
Immediately upon assuming office in 2001, the Bush administration imposed a blanket moratorium on all federal regulations then in the pipeline. Hundreds of rules were killed, including protections for clean air, clean water, wild lands, and National Monument designations.
Written at the request of corporate cronies, the infamous “Card memo”, by former auto industry lobbyists and new Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card, killed scores of environmental and public health protections (see: http://www.ombwatch.org/ombwatcher/ombw20010205.html#lwq
For copy of the Card memo, see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/regreview_plan.pdf
The scope of abuse of the public interest by the Bush Administration is staggering – for a fact sheet and Obama campaign position statement on needed reforms see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/191311/Barack-Obama-08-Taking-Back-Our-Government-Back-Final-Fact-Sheet
Today the NY Times reports that Bush new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has issued what amounts to a moratorium on new regulations on the way out. According to the NY Times:
The White House has also declared that it will generally not allow agencies to issue any final regulations after Nov. 1, nearly three months before President Bush relinquishes power.
But this latest stealth maneuver fooled no one:
“John D. Walke, director of the clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, denounced Mr. Bolten’s memorandum as intending to “shut down regulation for the remainder of the Bush administration.”
“Until the bitter end,” Mr. Walke said, “the administration will pursue deregulation on behalf of polluting industries and avoid regulation that would protect public health, welfare and the environment. This memo is a codification of that agenda.”

For as copy of the Bolten memo, see: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/washington/COS%20Memo%205.9.08.pdf
Reforming the Executive Branch, including weeding out pro-industry political appointees (hacks) and undoing all the regulatory damage of the Bush regime will be an enormous challenge of the next administration.
But this type of corruption is not limited to Washington DC beltway.
Right here in NJ, we face similar challenges at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It is widely recognized that DEP never recovered from the Whitman Administration’s budget and staff cuts. But very few are aware of the damage to the environment done by pro-industry imposed policy and regulatory changes that still have not been repaired after 8 years of Democratic administrations.
On top of all that, personnel problems caused by pro-industry and/or incompetent middle and upper management block needed environmental progress. DEP as an institution is in real distress.
Worse, we face equivalent threats of a Card/Bolten anti-regulatory policy in multiple places:
1) DEP budget cuts continue – the third consecutive Corzine budget cuts environmental funding;
2) The Corzine Administration’s Fast Track pro-economic development regulatory policy and the pending Permit Extension Act legislation would roll back and freeze environmental protections;
3) Under the bogus pretext of a depressed housing industry, DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson established a “Permit Efficiency Task Force” stacked with industry lobbyists to further roll back protections; (see: http://nj.gov/dep/permittf/
4) Jackson is promoting privatization and more deregulation of the toxic site cleanup program. Yet these same policies are the causes of multiple very visible and controversial botched cleanups – guess we should call it “the surge” on the environment.
When a set of privatization and deregulation policies are not working, just do more of them. That’s working for Bush in Iraq, right?

  1. unprovincial
    June 1st, 2008 at 14:10 | #1

    Yes, it’s like Corzine and DEP are following Bush’s playbook (mmm, wonder what that says about Hillary since Jon supports her?). This allowing the wolf to move into the henhouse includes housing the consultants within DEP’s own building! So the consultants get taxpayer-paid work space and utilities (phone, probably state vehicles and gas) and then get to charge DEP and NJ for their work! And this is supposed to save NJ money? This is better than just hiring more staff? Most of the staff at DEP are 40yrs old and over. I assume the same is true of other departments. What happens in 15 to 20 yrs? Do we just shut down NJ? We should be training and mentoring our replacements, not training consulting firm’s employees for free. And there are ethics rules regarding state employees going to work for consultants after they leave state employment but NO ONE is enforcing them. One of our previous Assist. Commissioners is now in the upper echelon of major polluter Honeywell. And a former staffer who assisted with School Construction Corp (SCC) work now works for one of the engineering firms that was contracted to SCC. Isn’t that cozy? So one can only wonder what this privatization is reallly all about. It didn’t work in the Publicly Funded program. Why do they think the same bozo consultants (lowest bid) will do better at all other sites?

  2. isbjorn1
    June 6th, 2008 at 11:31 | #2

    Any news on Jackson’s changing the makeup of the “Permit Efficiency Task Force” to add enviros? Not that it would really help, but . . .
    Did DEP ever respond to your suggestions re collecting funds owed by corporations for easements, concessions, etc. in the parks?
    Any suggestions on what us regular folk can do to continue to pressure DEP re these issues?

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