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Congress may act on Roadless

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, Dec 9, 2000.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

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    A Blizzard of Regulation

    Wednesday, December 6, 2000; Page A34

    THE CLINTON administration is leaving town in a blizzard of regulation
    whose effect will be to extend its influence well beyond its term. Every
    administration leaves a few such parting gifts, but rarely so many of
    such importance. The Labor Department, a week after the election, ended
    years of
    discussion and published, over the protests of business groups, a
    so-called ergonomics standard governing repetitive stress and similar
    workplace injuries across the entire economy. The Forest Service intends
    to impose a near-ban on further road-building and timbering in the
    remaining Roadless areas of the national forests. Other pending rules
    have to do with the chemistry of diesel fuel, medical privacy and the
    possible designation of much of the Arctic National Wildlife Refugee as
    a national monument, which could be a bar to oil drilling.

    Each of the regulations has vigorous opponents--employers, the timber,
    trucking and oil industries, health insurers. They complain not just
    that in their view the rules are wrongheaded but that the tactic of
    issuing them while headed out the door is unfair--an abuse of lame-duck
    status meant at
    least in part to hobble or embarrass a possible Bush administration by
    bequeathing to it policies with which it is known to disagree.

    This time around, however, unlike in the past, the opponents have a
    weapon. A procedure has been put in place whereby they can force an
    early vote in the next Congress to rescind the regulations. They already
    have threatened to use it against the forest protection and and
    ergonomics rules. We favor the taking of the votes, irrespective of our
    views of the regulations themselves (we strongly favor some and have
    reservations about others). The regulations will be the stronger if they
    survive. If not, the politicians who strike them down can explain
    themselves to the voters. In matters as
    sweeping as these, the voters are the right court of appeal.

    The procedure for disapproving major regulations was established in
    1996. It was part of an effort by the new Republican Congress to weaken
    the regulatory process or ease the regulatory burden, depending on your
    point of view. Congress has always had the power to pass legislation
    repealing any regulation. This merely gave such resolutions of
    disapproval special parliamentary status--protected them from filibuster
    in the Senate, for example. Defenders of regulation say even that is
    wrong--that once the power to regulate is granted, its every application
    ought not have to be defended in a political forum in which money and
    influence too often matter more than
    the public interest.

    They're right that there's a risk, but our sense is that worthy
    regulations will prevail, and that a right of disapproval strengthens
    the regulatory process. Too many politicians in both parties try to have
    it both ways on regulation. They support the laudable goals--clean air,
    clean water, a safe and healthy workplace--while balking at the cost of
    achieving them. They pass the statutes, then denounce as the handiwork
    of somehow evil bureaucrats the regulations to which the statutes give
    rise. In doing so,
    they undercut both political accountability and faith in governmental
    action that they themselves have undertaken. But they can't deny
    responsibility for regulations that they have an expedited right to
    disallow.

    Major regulations tend to be more consequential than many statutes. Some
    are based in part on science, but in the end almost all are at least in
    part political judgments on which Congress ought to vote if it
    disagrees. We look forward to the fight.




    <font color=red>get involved with land issues or lose the land</font color=red>
     

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