Bush’s EPA and Interior stocked with industry lawyers and lobbyists

New York Newsday is running a series called “Erasing the Rules” about the Bush administration’s coordinated efforts to remove or weaken regulations on industry. Of particular interest to Gristians will be the third installment, about the administration’s staffing of the U.S. EPA, Interior Department, and Agriculture Department with lawyers and lobbyists drawn directly from industries those agencies regulate. While Bush has had little luck persuading Congress to weaken the Clean Air Act or allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — perhaps because open debate on these unpopular measures draws undue public attention — he has been able to drastically alter the regulatory landscape, thanks in part to agencies staffed with industry veterans. Newsday’s analysis of public personnel records shows that Bush’s appointments at the top level have been markedly less diverse than Clinton’s, who spread them more evenly over lawyers and lobbyists, nonprofit workers, and academics. “With this administration, it seems like everybody at the political level here has either a close attachment with industry or with an ultra-conservative think tank or legal organization,” said a long-time EPA attorney who elected, probably wisely, to remain anonymous.