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Attempting to straitjacket your successor

One of the odd quirks about the US presidential race is that a retiring incumbent President – or even a losing one in an election campaign – still sits as president for 3 months between the November election and the January inauguration of the next President. That allows the outgoing administration to attempt to do all sorts of things to impose their “legacy” on the next administration. In George Bush’s administration’s case, they’re attempting to ram through regulation changes (presumably that Congress at this point can’t review) that will attempt to impose their ideological views on the next President, and as you might expect, their view is to try and “deregulate”:

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some 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.

The lobbyists are rushing to the White House to try and get Bush to ease laws and rules on all sorts of things. And as you might expect, some of these regulations are anti-environment:

One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases. According to the EPA’s estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming. A related regulation would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks. A third rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.

I aways thought Ronald Reagan was a bad environmental president, but he at least did eventually sign the anti acid-rain treaty with Mulroney, one of the few things I liked about that PM’s tenure. Bush however, has topped Reagan in his disregard for the environment, and is a lot worse then Harper and the Conservatives are, as hard as that is to do.

Obama – who will be elected president on Tuesday if all current polls are correct- will have a lot of work to do in reversing a lot of these. I don’t doubt he will try to do so as quickly as possible, however to remove the stain of the Bush presidency on the environment (and on other issues as well).


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