With Public Attention Elsewhere, Bush Rolls Back Regulations

The Bush administration, critics say, has taken advantage of the public’s distraction since 9/11 to govern via regulatory initiatives and rollbacks — which, unlike new laws, do not require congressional approval. Pro-business measures enacted by the Bushies include a rule allowing Forest Service managers to circumvent environmental reviews on logging projects and the rollback of new-source review rules for power plants. Some rule changes have been blocked in court, but with a steady flood, most get through. A budget office official brags of “cut[ting] the growth of costly business regulations by 75 percent,” while Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) calls it “tak[ing] a lot of loot out the back door without anybody noticing.” Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope says, “Now, when I hold focus groups with the general public and tell them what has been done, they exclaim, ‘How could this have happened without me knowing about it?'”