Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Storm clouds: White House eyes anti-regulatory zealot, while Ohio senator gloomily looms

The Washington Post “In the Loop”

I Am OMB and I Write the Rules
By Al Kamen

Wednesday, July 12, 2006; Page A13

Worried enviros say the Bush administration is about ready to announce its pick to head the Office of Management and Budget's powerful regulatory office and the front-runner is Susan Dudley , director of the regulatory studies program at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

Dudley would head the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which approves all environmental, health and safety and other government regulations.

Dudley, who has worked at the OMB and at the Environmental Protection Agency, would succeed John D. Graham , the cost-benefit champion who left in October. Graham also served as an adviser to Mercatus, the staunchly anti-regulatory center funded largely by Koch Industries Inc., the oil and gas company and mega-GOP contributor. Charles G. Koch and another top Koch official serve on the nine-member Mercatus board of directors.

Dudley would seem to be the obvious successor to continue the administration's anti-regulatory policies. After all, in the early days of President Bush's first term, when the OMB asked for public input on which regulations should be revised or killed, Mercatus submitted 44 of the 71 proposals the OMB received. And the OMB approved 15 of them, the National Journal reported at the time.

These recommendations critiqued onerous regulations such as a proposed Interior Department rule prohibiting snowmobiles in Rocky Mountain National Park, a Transportation Department rule limiting truckers' hours behind the wheel, and that silly EPA rule limiting the amount of arsenic in drinking water. (Hey! You don't want it? Don't drink it.)...

Some enviros are already pining for the days of John Graham, whose nomination they bitterly opposed. Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch called Dudley "a true anti-regulatory zealot" who "makes John Graham look like Ralph Nader."

Well, that's what elections are all about.

Voinovich wants EPA to weight costs, benefits of air regulations

11 July 2006Platts Commodity News

A key US lawmaker said Tuesday that he may introduce legislation to require the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct cost-benefit analyses before strengthening its national air-quality standards.

Senator George Voinovich, Republican-Ohio, said such a requirement is needed to prevent EPA from setting overly stringent standards and hurting the economy. Voinovich's interest in the subject is notable because he chairs a Senate subcommittee that has jurisdiction over EPA's air office.

EPA is currently under court order to review its air-quality standards for particulate matter or "soot" and ozone or "smog." Tightening either of these standards could heap new regulatory requirements and additional costs on power plants and other components of the energy industry.

The Supreme Court previously ruled that EPA cannot consider costs when deciding how stringent to set its air-quality standards.

... Voinovich made it clear that he would be extremely troubled if EPA moves to tighten either its PM or ozone standard. Voinovich previously sponsored legislation that would have required EPA to conduct cost-benefit analyses, but no such bill ever passed Congress.

Environmental groups were dismayed when told that Voinovich was once again considering such legislation. "We would consider that a direct attack on the Clean Air Act," said Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch.

Voinovich may say more about the matter Thursday, when he holds a hearing on air-quality standards in his Environment and Public Works subcommittee on clean air, climate change and nuclear safety.

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