R314: Ramrodding Rule Regulatory Rush

Stealth destruction and greed . . . So, along with the bank robbery I just posted, there is environmental mayhem and destruction orchestrated by the Bush Administration. Let's put to rest the notion that this administration is incompetent. These people are supremely successful at their goals. Just because only a tiny number of individuals on the entire planet benefit doesn't mean they haven't succeeded at what they set out to do.

All we have are our voices, our attention and our ability to shine light at the things that are being hidden. It is not a time to make nice. The OMB Watch published this by Matt Madia on Wednesday, October 22, 2008.

To Gut Species Protection, Interior Calls "All Hands on Deck"

The Bush administration is moving at warp speed to finalize a rule that will allow government-approved projects to intrude on the habitats of endangered species.

The Department of the Interior received about 300,000 public comments, mostly negative, on its proposal after it was unveiled in August. According to an internal email obtained by the Associated Press, Interior wants to review all the public comments in just four days:

In an e-mail last week to Fish and Wildlife managers across the country, Bryan Arroyo, the head of the agency's endangered species program, said the team would work eight hours a day starting Tuesday to the close of business on Friday to sort through the comments. …

At that rate, according to a [House Natural Resources Committee] aide's calculation, 6,250 comments would have to be reviewed every hour. That means that each member of the team would be reviewing at least seven comments each minute.

That gives each comment just enough time to slide across someone's desk, directly into the trash. Welcome to the federal rulemaking process, thanks for participating.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne instructed the agency to review all the comments this week, according to AP.

Kempthorne is obviously trying to hurry the rule out the door before President Bush himself is hurried out the door. A new president may not cotton to the idea of government-approved projects threatening endangered species.

Interior's proposal would allow federal land-use managers to approve projects like infrastructure creation, minerals extraction, or logging without consulting habitat managers and biological health experts responsible for species protection.

Allowing agencies to bypass expert scientific review for development projects runs counter to long-standing practices required by the Endangered Species Act. The act requires project managers to request from Interior "information whether any species which is listed or proposed to be listed may be present in the area" where construction will occur.

Kempthorne may be trying to comply with a deadline set by White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. In a May memo, Bolten instructed Bush administration agencies to finalize regulations by November 1.

But the endangered species rule has already violated other provisions in the memo. Bolten also instructed agencies to propose rules by June 1. (Probably so agency officials wouldn't be stuck reviewing hundreds of thousands of comments in just a few days.) The endangered species rule was not published until Aug. 15.

Other peculiarities have signaled Kempthorne's intent to ramrod this rule through the regulatory pipeline. Interior initially announced only a 30-day comment period. (Comment periods usually last 60 days; Interior extended the period to 60 days after public outcry.) Also, OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs — the White House office in charge of reviewing agency rules — spent only three days looking at the endangered species changes. OIRA's average review time for Interior Department rules in 2008 is 58 days.

So despite the overwhelming public opposition and the time constraints on the agency's ability to give this major policy shift careful consideration, Kempthorne will plow ahead. The rule would be a feather in Bush administration's cap; Bush's record on protecting endangered species is abysmal.

There were and are other rules being messed with too. Some exit strategy. This is another form of robbery in progress. First, we don’t get the huge fines due the government by these huge polluters like Exxon Mobile. Also, we are being robbed of species and other living things and a clean, healthy world. To hand over profits to big business by robbing the public good, the planet’s good. While I was being distracted by the elections – along with everyone else - this mass destruction was being undertaken. This is not my area of expertise so I rely heavily on what others have discovered. The Rag Blog was particularly helpful.

EVERY RULE IN EVERY AGENCY IS UNDER ATTACK.

We are all going to need to support those organizations, like Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, EDF, etc., that will be making these fights. Whatever interest you have, it is under attack.

All that money you were giving every month to Obama? Figure out what organization making these fights you support and make a monthly sustainer to them, so they can make the fight.

This is the Bush Administration's real legacy.

So, while we've all been distracted by the campaign...

I’d say pick a group and at minimum visit the website for the latest petitions and actions. Every bit of energy counts even if you can’t donate. (I like to tell myself this because I can’t donate).

Here are a few more rules . . .

Rule Description Proposal Date Current Status Office of Surface Mining (Interior) — The rule would allow mining companies to dump the waste (i.e. excess rock and dirt) from mountaintop mining into rivers and streams.
+ Find out more from Earthjustice Aug. 24, 2007

(Proposal) Final rule sent to OMB Sept. 22. Department of the Interior — The rule would alter implementation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing federal land-use managers to approve projects like infrastructure creation, minerals extraction, or logging without consulting federal habitat managers and biological health experts responsible for species protection. Currently, consultation is required.
+ Find out more from RegWatch,

OMB Watch's regulatory policy blog Aug. 15, 2008*

(Proposal) Final rule has not been sent to OMB, but Interior officials are hastily reviewing public comments. Environmental Protection Agency — The rule would ease current restrictions that make it difficult for power plants to operate near national parks and wilderness areas.

+ Find out more from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee June 6, 2007

(Proposal) Final rule sent to OMB Oct. 30. Environmental Protection Agency — Under the rule, concentrated animal feeding operations, i.e. factory farms, could allow farm runoff to pollute waterways without a permit. The rule circumvents the Clean Water Act, instead allowing for self-regulation.

+ Find out more from the Natural Resources Defense Council March 7, 2008

(Proposal) Final rule announced by EPA Oct. 31.

(Final rule) Environmental Protection Agency — The rule would change EPA's New Source Review program, which requires new facilities or renovating facilities to install better pollution control technology, by subjecting fewer facilities to its requirements.

+ Find out more from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee May 8, 2007

(Proposal) Final rule has not been sent to OMB. Environmental Protection Agency — The rule would exempt factory farms from reporting air pollution emissions from animal waste.
+ Find out more from OMB Watch Dec. 28, 2007
(Proposal) Final rule sent to OMB Oct. 24. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce) — The rule would transfer the responsibility for examining the environmental impacts of federal ocean management decisions from federal employees to advisory groups that represent regional fishing interests. The rule would also make it more difficult for the public to participate in the environmental assessment process required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

+ Find out more from Pew Charitable Trusts May 14, 2008

(Proposal) Final rule sent to OMB Nov. 4. Environmental Protection Agency — EPA proposed two options: 1) to impose no new requirements on oil refineries; or 2) to impose minimal requirements. EPA is responding to a congressional mandate that it control toxic emissions from refineries, but option 1 would ignore that mandate, and option 2 would not go far enough, environmentalists say.

+ Find out more from the Natural Resources Defense Council Sept. 4, 2007
(Proposal) Final rule approved by OMB O

Rule Description Proposal Date Current Status National Park Service (Interior) — The rule would end the 25-year-old ban on carrying loaded weapons in national parks.
+ Find out more from the National Coalition of Park Service Retirees April 30, 2008
(Proposal) Final rule sent to OMB Nov. 4.

2 comments:

Rosa said...

Thank you for this. I am trying not to read the green blogs right now because the racist bullshit coming out after the election makes me too angry.

katecontinued said...

It is deeply depressing what ugliness has been revealed about the US citizenry in the last few years.

And I have struggled with the green blogs, the progressive blogs (as we have discussed before) for the privilege, entitlement and self righteousness that is revealed.

It is looking in a mirror as I have been guilty too - according to family. So, I must believe this is a challenge that can be met and addressed. It has made me rethink blogging. I don't think the world needs another white person anguishing about the state of the world and personal angst.

If I even make it to the end of the year, I think my focus will switch to Activity (I am seriously weak from a sedentary life) and Activisim (because I believe I need to switch from writing to doing).