Bush’s Small Tweaks to Regulations Carry Large Consequences

In the third installment of its in-depth three-article series on Bush administration regulatory changes, The Washington Post today focuses on the way the administration circumvents public debate and legislation in favor of making small changes in regulatory wording that carry huge consequences — removing the word “hazardous” from mercury emission regs, reclassifying nuclear waste from “high-level” to “incidental,” and perhaps most portentously, changing the name of debris from mountaintop-removal coal mines from “waste” to “fill.” The latter change — the “fill rule” of 2002 — has led to a boom in a practice that is loathed not only by enviros but by a growing majority of rural Appalachians, who object to the irremediable destruction of landscapes where their families have lived for generations. Some 700 miles of headwater streams have been buried in “fill” and more than 240 species of fish adversely affected. As it happens, the coal industry has raised $9 million for Republicans since 1998.