Checkmate: OMB Could Stonewall Climate Change Regulations Mandated By US Congress

Via AP:- "U.S. President George W. Bush Thursday gave the White House Office of Management and Budget broad new authority over federal agencies." One specific requirement: 'federal agencies are to install presidential appointees as their internal-agency regulatory heads, reporting to OMB'. And, according to the AP report, agency "guidance documents" -- recommendations that clarify regulatory provisions -- must undergo the same Office of Management and Budget scrutiny as regulations. Look below the fold for details from "OMB Watch." On January 18, President Bush issued amendments to Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, which further centralize regulatory power in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and shift it away from the federal agencies given this power by legislative enactments.

Among the changes to the E.O.:

It shifts the criterion for promulgating regulations from the identification of a problem like public health or environmental protection to the identification of "…the specific market failure (such as externalities, market power, lack of information)…that warrant new agency action."

It requires guidance documents to go through the same OMB review process as proposed regulations before agencies can issue them.

It also requires "significant" guidance documents (those that are estimated to have at least a $100 million effect on the economy, among other criteria) to go through the same OMB review process as "significant" regulations.

It makes the agencies' Regulatory Policy Officer a presidential appointment and gives that person the approval authority for any commencement or inclusion of any rulemaking in the Regulatory Plan unless specifically authorized by the agency head.

It requires each agency to estimate the "combined aggregate costs and benefits of all its regulations planned for that calendar year to assist with the identification of priorities," which will be overseen by the Regulatory Policy Officer

OMB Watch mentions that "This standard has been advocated by Ms. Susan Dudley (pictured above). In her bio sheet on the Mercatus Center (Think Tank) site, Ms. Dudley writes that:- "She and her husband both drive hybrid cars (they purchased their Prius in 2001)."

Via Sourcewatch:- "The Mercatus Center has engaged in campaigns involving deregulation, especially environmental deregulation. The Mercatus Center was founded as the Center for Market Processes by Rich Fink, executive vice president of Koch Industries and former president of the Koch Foundations, who went on to found Citizens for a Sound Economy. In the early 1980s the center moved to George Mason University".

Also from Sourcewatch, regarding Citizens for a Sound Economy:- "On global warming though, it argues "efforts to regulate carbon dioxide are an attempt by the global Left to gain control of the U.S. economy.""

Our headline implication is hypothetical. The new Executive Order clearly has the potential to slow a "command and control" approach to carbon dioxide emissions, or just make it unimplementable, with Federal Agencies acting as the bottleneck.

Regardless what Congress may accomplish in 2007, then, US States will feel compelled to continue with their onging experiments in Climate change mitigation, More safe and sutainable products will gain market share not by US Federal incentives but, rather, by European efforts such as RoHS.