In one of his first acts, Obama, through his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, “ordered a halt to all pending federal regulations until the new White House team conducts a legal and policy review of the last-minute Bush administration rules,” E&E Daily (subs. reqd) reports.
It also turns out that Congress, with simply majorities, can toss any rule within 60 legislative days — and that goes as far back as “May or June 2008.”
Regulation junkies — you know who you are — can read Emanuel’s memo here.
Rahm Emanuel’s memo could lead to the reversal of dozens of energy and environmental measures advanced in Bush’s waning days, including standards addressing mountaintop mining, air pollution permits, logging in the West, an exemption for factory farms from Superfund reporting requirements and endangered species.
The story concludes with background and more details:
Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all issued similar orders when they took office as a stopgap to review work finished at the tail end of their predecessor’s term. For regulations already in place, the new president has limits on what he can do. Former President George W. Bush, for example, was only able to stop 3 percent of the last-minute Clinton rules, according to the think tank Mercatus Center.
Congress can also step in to halt Bush-era regulations. With a simple majority in both the House and Senate and the president’s signature, lawmakers can toss a rule within 60 legislative days of its submission to Capitol Hill. Because of lengthy congressional breaks in August, October and December, the 60-day window could go back as far as May or June 2008.
The Congressional Review Act has previously only been used once — by Republicans in March 2001 to overturn a Clinton-administration workplace ergonomics rule that was fiercely opposed by business groups. But it could become popular this year, the first time in its short history that a party change in the White House is paired with that party holding significant majorities in both houses of Congress.
Spokesmen for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have said they are also reviewing the law and would consider using it, in consultation with the new Obama administration. And Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has said she would consider using the law to block Bush’s rules on the Endangered Species Act.
Major rules — those that will cost the economy $100 million or more — go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and minor rules go into effect within 30 days. The Bush administration’s Office of Management and Budget judged most of its environmental rules as “economically insignificant.”
Yeah, right. The Bushies wasted their time on “economically insignificant” stuff.
Emanuel’s memo mandates a review by the president or department designee for all regulations not yet published in the Federal Register. For regulations published but not yet in effect, the chief of staff also suggests a 60-day window for review as well as a new 30-day public comment period.
Change begins yesterday.