Within hours after taking office, President George W. Bush managed to raise the ire of environmentalists with an executive order that temporarily stalls some new regulations, including new diesel emissions rules
issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last December.
On Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Jr. instructed the Government Printing Office to halt publication of any new rules in the Federal Register and issued a 60-day stay on rules that have been published but haven't yet taken effect.
Such regulatory reviews are common for new administrations, but Bush has voiced concern over many of the changes President Clinton implemented in the last days of his presidency. Bush's nominee for EPA administrator, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, said in confirmation hearings that they would review the clean diesel rule.
The Clean Air Trust quickly released a statement warning of dire consequences to public health if the diesel rule is delayed. "Given the massive health benefits of the diesel cleanup, it would be a terrible blunder for the new administration to weaken or delay these new standards," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director.
It isn't clear what changes Bush can make to rules that have already been issued. The 60-day stay will push the effective date of the diesel rule to June, but most of its provisions don’t take effect until 2006. New rules that have already taken effect, such as the controversial ergonomics standard issued late last year by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are supposedly out of Bush's reach.