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Sierra Club
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet
RAW: Uncooked Truth, Beyond Belief 

Issue #273
Nov 14, 2008
Bush's Midnight Moves

Just when hope was shining through, the Bush administration came out from its undisclosed location to remind us that our long national nightmare isn't over just yet.

Not content with the damage they have already wrought over the past 8 years (Great Depression Part II, anyone?), the administration is rushing to put dozens of so-called "midnight regulations" in place before they shuffle off into ignominy come January 20.

What terrible tidbits await? A final rule making it even easier for coal companies to continue to decimate Appalachia with Mountaintop Removal mining. Several rules that will alter reporting requirements and such, allowing polluters to further evade existing environmental laws. Destructive drilling on sensitive lands in Utah. Relaxing air pollution rules designed to protect the air in and around national parks. A rule allowing factory farms to "self-regulate" (we've seen how well this worked on Wall Street). And oh so many more!

Many of the Clinton's administrations last ditch efforts to put positive rules in place were thwarted when the Bush administration rolled into town. Because the Clintonistas had waited until the absolute last minute and the rules had yet to go into effect, many of them were easily quashed on January 21, 2001. The Bushies thought that by finalizing most of the rules this month it would make it difficult or nearly impossible for them to be overturned either quickly or easily by the Obama administration. But, fortunately, they were wrong.

In one last swan song of incompetence, the Bush administration appears to have overlooked a crucial detail of the Congressional Review Act, the law governing such matters. The CRA gives the Congress 60 days to overturn any rule it objects to on a simple, non-filibusterable up-or-down vote. That leaves plenty of time for the Bushies, right? Wrong! Any days that either house of Congress is adjourned for more than three days (i.e. any days since October 3) that Congress is not in session don't count, which means that the new Congress (and President Obama) will have more than enough time to rid us of some of the most egregious rules using either the CRA or executive orders (as Obama's transition team has already said they will do).

On a sidenote, a delicious wave of schadenfreude washed over me when I read that the Congressional Review Act was passed as part of the "Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996." Ha!

Take that Newt Gingrich.



RAW is the Sierra Club's weekly e-mail update in which our team of Sierra Club correspondents bring you humorous insights about environmental stories you won't want to believe.

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