I'm appalled at the last-minute rule changes the Bush administration is pushing through. Most of them are aimed at weakening existing environmental and safety legislation.
On the other hand Oregon has a senator who's trying to make them accountable, and maintain the safety and quality of our lives I'd like to thank Ron Wyden for following up on the impact of the bad decisions at the Dept of Interior:
“Significant harm to the integrity of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the morale and reputation of the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as potential harm to individual species,” and the “untold waste of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars” are just some of the consequences of what the Interior Department’s Inspector General Earl Devaney terms one former Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald’s “zeal to advance her agenda.” General Devaney released these findings in a 141 page report detailing his office’s year-long investigation, initiated at the request of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who believed that 18 ESA decisions may have been tainted by Ms. MacDonaldAs he says in his report:
“Why my office needed to request an Inspector General’s investigation to get this information is beyond me; but as usual, General Devaney’s work is not only beyond reproach, it gives Congress what is needed to take action,” said Wyden. “I believe that General Devaney’s exemplary service during what is unquestionably one of the darkest periods in the Interior Department’s history more than merits his being kept on in the Obama Administration to continue prosecuting the case.”Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to weaken the ESA by directive, since they couldn't get enough support politically. The Pew charitable trust reports that one attack on the ESA will transfer responsibility for environmental impact reviews from federal employees (which requires public input) to advisory groups that represent regional fishing interests.
Here's the proposed rule change which was sent to the OMB on Nov 4th.
As the Washington Post points out:
For example, take the Minerals Management Service whose mission is to "manage the ocean energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and Federal and Indian mineral revenues to enhance public and trust benefits, promote responsible use, and realize fair value." If an official is considering a project that would yield huge energy benefits and please MMS higher-ups but would also decimate one or more endangered species and violate the law, what's a bureaucrat to do?Another rule change is a similar case of the fox watching the hen house. RegWatch reports on a change that allows government agencies to make their own environmental assessments, rather than requiring independent scientific reviews. This would be as if we spread the "blind eye" attitude of Secretary McDonald horizontally across all regulatory agencies.