Bush administration postpones action on enviro issues until after election

The Bush administration is pushing off a number of controversial environment-related moves until after the election. For example: Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had requested a report from the National Petroleum Council on how to boost U.S. oil-refining capacity, to be released tomorrow. The U.S. EPA was expected to strongly object to the council’s recommendations, which were to include the easing of several environmental regulations. Funny story: Turns out Abraham now has “a scheduling issue,” according to an Energy Department spokesflack, and the report will be delayed until late November — coincidentally, after the election. The same kooky scheduling issues seem to be afflicting a number of coming regulations on roadless areas, meat processing, and prescription drugs. While it’s not unusual to delay some regulations in an election year, says Gene Kimmelman of Consumers Union, “What is unusual this time is the clear pattern of holding back regulatory decisions that will benefit the largest industry players and will drive up prices and marketplace risks for consumers.” Marty Hayden of Earthjustice warns of “a fire sale such as we’ve never seen post-election.”