Free Market & Progressive Activists Against Bush "Midnight" Regulations

The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration is rushing to get regulations out the door before its minions return to private life:

The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

A coalition of free market groups, including the Competitve Enterprise Institute and the Capital Research Center have joined with progressive-minded environmentalist groups, such as the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife, to urge a moratorium on new regulations.

As their open letter to President Bush notes:

The process of midnight rulemaking–something that Presidents of both parties have done with relish–does great damage to the soundness of our regulatory process and, indeed, our democracy. The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 establishes a regulatory process that includes opportunity for public comment, review, and investigation of regulations. Ultimately, however, enormous power rests with the regulators themselves. The people, through their votes, provide a check on unwise rulemaking. When you issue regulations as a departing administration, you do so without this check and, in some cases, against the will of the people.

On your own administration’s first day in office almost eight years ago, you issued an executive order suspending the implementation of your own predecessors’ last-minute regulations. Much of the rulemaking during your first years in office involved revising, revisiting, and repealing these “midnight” regulations in order to implement your agenda. You should set a good example and avoid leaving your predecessor with the type of headaches you inherited.

Your administration has already issued more regulations than any in history (emphasis added). For eight years, you have been able to implement your agenda on a wide array of issues. We acknowledge that bona fide emergency rulemaking may become necessary at times but, true emergencies-by definition-are few, far between, and pertain to a small subset of issues. In addition, the issuance of regulatory action may be compelled by court-supervised deadlines or other mandates. These regulations are different from the discretionary actions undertaken in the final rush of the administration to advance controversial policies while subverting transparency, rigor, and legitimacy in the rulemaking process.

As a coalition, we do not take a position on any particular rule but, rather, a principled stand on the proper conduct of rulemaking. Our coalition likely contains proponents and opponents of nearly every major regulation you would consider. We have different interests but share a conviction: for the next few months, you should avoid issuing all but the most urgent new regulations.

Whole joint open letter can be found here

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration is rushing to get regulations out the door before its minions return to private life

    As the article notes, this is business as usual.

    As a coalition, we do not take a position on any particular rule but, rather, a principled stand on the proper conduct of rulemaking.

    Of course, in my view, rulemaking that results in regulations that have the force of law is ultra vires, an unconstitutional exercise of power by the executive branch, and a violation of separation of powers. The fact that Congress acquiesces in order to avoid its responsibilities and evade accountability makes it worse, not better.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    If this is just about the repealing on some hippy bureaucracy then I can't really get upset about this.

  • ||

    No doubt in my mind that Dictator Bush is the biggest War Criminal of ALL time. Apparently he KNOWS himself what a lowlife he really is and is tryin to initiate some good ole fashion CYA. What an idiot, the sooner we get this MORON out of office the better of we will ALL be.

    Jiff
    www.anonymity.cz.tc

  • ellipsis||

    There's that pesky little thing called Congress in the way.

    Lame ducks in divided branches of government rarely get what they want.

  • Robert Goodman||

    What kind of devil's deal is this letter? STFU, CEI guy, and let these midnight deregulatory regulations go thru!

    Let this also serve as a reminder to those who try to measure assaults on freedom crudely, such as by number of "new regulations" passed. When a regulation is softened or stricken, that softening or strickening too is a "new regulation".

  • X||

    the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife were big fans of Clinton's midnight regs

  • ||

    You should set a good example and avoid leaving your predecessor with the type of headaches you inherited.



    Would have been nice if they knew the difference petween predecessor and successor.

  • economist||

    Uh, a lot of these things actually sound like reductions in government regulation, taken at face value. Unless, of course, Bush is giving sweetheart deals to cronies while screwing everyone else over. Otherwise, this makes no sense.

  • economist||

    I don't get it, George Bush is leaving Bill Clinton with headaches he inherited from Bill Clinton?

    Am I reading this right, or have I gotten drunk again?

  • ||

    As libertarians, we should be concerned with results more than processes. Less regulation is always a libertarian ideal; how those regulations are lessened - honestly, dishonestly, democratically or by judicial fiat - isn't a field that libertarian philosophy takes a stand on.

    If George Bush is really taking advantage of his last months in office to disassemble some of the government's regulatory apparatus, we should honor him for it, not condemn him for not 'following the rules'...

  • ||

    Unless, of course, Bush is giving sweetheart deals to cronies while screwing everyone else over.

    Perish the thought.

  • Logfile||

    There's a difference between deregulation and cronyism. This is most likely the latter and will lead to some sort of horrible bubble and collapse of some sort in about 10 years.

  • economist||

    Logfile,
    My point was they didn't give any indication in the article on whether it was actually deregulation or just cronyism. We should clear that up before getting up in arms, especially with leftists, over it.

  • mnuez||

    Damn! I clicked on the comments link here in the earnest hope and belief that I'd read a dozen comments saying the exact opposite of what the swine says! Ouch!

    I'd be lying though if I said that I don't secretly like the swine's inner evil consistency. I'm not of the same ethical preferences as him but I enjoy the coldness of his lone, stone, stance all the same.

  • ||

    As libertarians, we should be concerned with results more than processes. Less regulation is always a libertarian ideal; how those regulations are lessened - honestly, dishonestly, democratically or by judicial fiat - isn't a field that libertarian philosophy takes a stand on.

    The ends justifies the means rarely, if ever, leads to results that libertarians applaud.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement