The Bush administration is being pressured by industries, from agriculture to power, to act on an abundance of pending regulations, mostly challenging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example, last month, power companies and manufacturers took their objections about an expected EPA proposal to tighten federal smog rules to the White House budget office. There, they urged officials to reject the agency’s proposal to tighten standards. In response to the criticism, public health groups met with the budget office as well to argue for tougher standards.
These “midnight regulations” often come about in an administration’s last year after the election results are known. Industry lobbyists are feeling a greater urgency this time, however, because they are nervous about Republican nominee, John McCain, and what the Democrats will do if they come into power. McCain has made many industries, such as cable, angry for allowing consumers to pay for single channels rather than a package of services. He also has joined with Democrats in allowing the importation of drugs from Canada, angering the pharmaceutical industry as well.
The Small Business Administration recently created a top ten list of rules businesses want changed before President Bush leaves office in January. Business owners and their representatives nominated more than eighty rules for the list, including workplace safety, tax, and contracting regulations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is challenging several pending rules on labor and employment, including one that would tighten the requirements of employees seeking family medical leave. The lobbying group is attempting to influence the wording on the regulations. If they cannot, they will attempt to influence the instructions on interpreting them, issued by the agency.
Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are challenging an EPA proposal to exclude farms from reporting potentially dangerous emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. They argue this omission favors special interests over the health of the American public. Another EPA proposal omits 19,000 feedlots from the need to obtain a discharge permit regarding the releasing of waste into waterways. Although they are no longer supposed to discharge waste into the water, in the case that there is an accidental leakage, under the new proposal industries will be shielded from lawsuits. Livestock operators and the EPA, however, argue this proposal does not discharge farms from their legal responsibilities.