President Obama halts the Bush Administration's "Midnight Regulations"

by The Environmentalist Staff

Shortly after his inauguration, President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issued an order halting all regulations signed by President Bush that were still pending review.
One of President Barack Obama's first acts as president was to order federal agencies to halt all pending regulations until his administration can review them.

The order went out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Obama was inaugurated president, in a memorandum signed by new White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
The so-called "midnight regulations" were orders signed by President Bush that included oil leases on public land, the weakening of environmental regulations, reversal of endangered species regulations (wolves), and many other last minute gifts to friends and cronies that set the environmental and land-owners in general to howl in protest.

• A finalized rule effectively deregulates industrial farms so that they can discharge animal waste into waterways.

• An adopted rule opens up public land to drilling preliminary to the development of oil shale extraction.

• A proposed rule provides for a conscience clause for workers at hospitals receiving federal money (particularly state hospitals), allowing them to refuse to perform abortions or dispense contraceptives.

• Several other rules have already been adopted, including one increasing truck drivers' maximum hours of service to eleven and another restricting employee time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The rules have attracted considerable criticism.

One student, Tim DeChristopher, went so far as to bid for the land at hurried Bureau of Land Management auction (without having sufficient funds to buy them) in an effort to put the proverbial spanner in the works and delay their sale until President Obama could get into office to do just what he did today -- put a stop to all the orders still under review. The student is now dealing with his own legal costs.

Robert Redford and the NRDC have also worked to stop a land lease (grab) in Utah.

Congress has begun its own efforts to reverse the legislation:
Democrats in both houses of Congress are preparing legislation to facilitate reversing some of the Bush administration’s last-minute controversial rules. The rules range from easing regulations on coal mining practices to allowing health-care workers to refuse to administer abortions based on their personal moral objections. You can see our running tally of midnight regs here.

A list of the Senate’s top ten bills for 2009 leaked to the American Prospect shows that one bill will "return the Government to the people by reviewing controversial 'midnight regulations' issued in the waning days of the Bush Administration."

Rahm Emanuel's order on behalf of the new president gives Congress the time they need to see what they can do to overturn the midnight regulations.