Just before Clinton left office, he went on a mad dash to designate vast tracts of federal lands as national monuments. The intent was to protect the areas from being opened to oil and gas exploration before the W administration took office--and done in a way that would be almost impossible to rescind. Now W is doing something similar, but in opposite, by easing environmental standards on global warming gases, drinking water safety, and mountaintop mining.
From the article:
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.
"They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office," said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration's penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom. He called the coming deluge "a last-minute assault on the public . . . happening on multiple fronts."