In the waning months of the Bush Presidency, industry lobbyists are pushing for rule changes at federal departments and agencies. Once finalized these rules can not be easily rescinded or modified by an incoming Administration. The National Association of Manufacturers wants to restrict a Labor Department regulation requiring businesses of 50 or more employees to give their workers up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for a child birth or personal or family medical problem. Coal companies want the Interior Department to grant them the right to dump the results of their mountaintop mining operations into surrounding valleys and creeks. Some coal powered electric plant operators want the EPA to grant them a waiver on installing anti-pollution equipment. Poultry producer groups want to be able to dump ammonia laden waste from their chickens on the ground. Car manufacturers want the Transportation Department to weaken car roof standards to withstand rollover accidents. Trucking companies also want the department to increase the maximum number of hours truckers can drive. Hopefully, lawsuits will delay many of these until the next Administration but the rush is on.
On May 9, 2008, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten issued a memorandum giving agencies a deadline of June 1, 2008 to submit new rules. While in principle such a move could be a good thing since it avoids dumping last minute rule changes on a new Administration. In practice, the Bush Administration has already made its push for new regulations meant to tie the hands of the next Administration. The decision also would give a further rationale for agencies like the EPA to stall urgently needed regulations on the environment and global warming which the Bush Administration opposes.
Other last minute rules changes would allow uranium mining within 3 miles of the Grand Canyon and mountain top removal mining, i.e. dumping the rubble from strip mining into surrounding vallies with all the destruction of environment and fouling of water that entails.