Sunday, December 14, 2008

Midnight Madness

This really does sound like a late night Christmas bargain bonanza. I'm talking about the midnight regulations -- actually more like deregulations -- that President Bush is zealously handing out at an accelerated pace as his reign comes to an end. Each new rule is a special gift tied in a bow for one of his friends:

To the coal companies: a new rule that makes it easier for companies that mine for coal buried under mountaintops to dump rock and sludge near rivers and streams.

To a British mining company: a permit allowing them to explore for uranium just outside Grand Canyon National Park, less than three miles from a popular lookout over the canyon’s southern rim.

To the oil companies: (considering that Bush already gave them the war in Iraq, this one is more like a stocking stuffer) new regulations to develop oil shale deposits straddling almost two million acres of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

To the industrial farms: new regulations to circumvent the Clean Water Act, leaving it up the the farms themselves to decide if animal waste discharges are harmful or not.

To big chemical companies: a decision to exempt perchlorate, a known toxin found in jet rocket fuel and our water supply, from federal regulation. Hey, if it ends up in our drinking water, just think of it as recycling... right?

To business: a new rule that makes it harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.

To fundamentalist pharmacists: a new rule that says health care providers can refuse to assist, due to religious or moral reasons, in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity financed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Many believe this regulation might prevent some women from obtaining birth control.

And to the rest of us, he leaves debt, two wars/occupations, a shitty economy, an imperiled planet, and a government that spies on its citizens. They always say "it's the thought that counts," but be thankful for gift receipts...

I thought I read that it was easy to undo these midnight regulations, but the process is not simple. From a Rolling Stone article on Bush's Final FU, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) may be the best hope for overturning these rules, but it's not easy:
But even this option, it turns out, is fraught with obstacles. First, the CRA requires a separate vote on each individual regulation. Second, the act prohibits reviving any part of a rule that has been squelched. Since Bush's rules sometimes contain useful reforms — the move to limit the Family and Medical Leave Act also extends benefits for military families — spiking the rules under the CRA would leave Obama unable to restore or augment those benefits in the future. Whatever Obama does will require him to expend considerable political capital, at a time when America faces two wars and an economic crisis of historic proportions.
So what should the world give Bush for Christmas? An Iraqi journalist already gave him a gift with sole (if video doesn't show, click here):

Too bad he missed, but hey, it's the thought that counts.

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