WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Friday condemned a sweeping Bush administration review of hundreds of federal regulations as an effort to undermine environmental protections and the public’s health and safety. In a 162-page report issued by the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the administration announced it would review over 300 rules and regulatory policies identified as in need of overhaul, reform, or elimination – including those governing air quality, waterborne diseases, food quality, and pesticide exposure.
“This administration is conducting a campaign to eliminate numerous environmental, health and safety protections,” Lieberman said. “We have seen – in the face of several environmental rules the administration tried to roll back two years ago – a disregard for the scientific record, the value of public participation in rule-making, and for established regulatory procedure. “What the administration should really be spending its time on is identifying weak spots in the regulatory fabric instead of trying to immunize polluters and other wrongdoers from important health, safety and environmental protections.” In March 2002,OMB solicited suggestions for regulations that needed changing. The administration received over 1,700 responses, many from regulated businesses. Now, OMB is forwarding these suggestions to the agencies for their review and consideration of whether the regulatory protections should be changed or eliminated. Targeted regulations and policies include over 60 issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, including those that protect the public against toxic chemicals. Other regulations subject to review include rules to prevent the marketing of contaminated food, protections of workers’ health and safety, and the preservation of natural areas. In October, Lieberman issued a report on three environmental and health regulations the administration tried to undermine: The Department of Agriculture’s rule prohibiting most road construction and logging in roadless areas of national forests, the Department of the Interior’s rule regulating hard rock mining on public lands, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule capping the permissible level of arsenic in drinking water. The report tells a story of administration actions characterized by a dismissive attitude toward long-established regulatory procedures, the value of public input, and the science or record supporting the rules under review.