Obama and Ozone: Executing Regulation by Presidential Order

by Rena Steinzor | October 06, 2011

The blog post was co-authored by Rena Steinzor and James Goodwin.

When President Obama issued his new Executive Order 13563 this past January – the one calling on agencies to “look-back” at existing regulations –speculation abounded as to what, if any effect, it would have on agencies’ rulemaking. Setting aside the look-back plan provisions (and the President’s unproductive anti-regulation rhetoric in the Wall Street Journal), the new Order didn’t seem to add much to the 18-year-old Executive Order 12866, save for a few broad platitudes relating to regulatory policy. But the President’s decision to kill EPA’s new ozone standard suggests that the new Order can and will be used to weaken regulations.

Last Thursday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress that the Obama Administration would revert to the ozone standard set by the Bush Administration: 75 parts per billion (ppb) in ambient air. Of course, EPA’s expert, blue ribbon scientific advisory board had unanimously recommended that the agency lower this standard to somewhere between 60 and 70 ppb. A 60 ppb standard for ozone would have prevented up to 12,000 premature deaths, 5,300 non-fatal heart attacks, 2,200 cases of chronic bronchitis, 420,000 lost work days, and 2,100,000 missed school days every year. A 70 ppb standard would have prevented up to 4,300 premature deaths, 2,200 non-fatal heart attacks, 880 cases of chronic bronchitis, 170,000 lost work days, and 600,000 missed school days. Under the 75 ppb standard, those benefits will effectively be cut in ...

President Obama's Puzzling New Executive Order: Should the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Really be Spending Its Precious Time and Resources Weakening Existing Regulations?

by Thomas McGarity | July 13, 2011
On Monday, the White House announced that President Obama had signed a new executive order on federal regulation to supplement January’s executive order to executive branch regulatory agencies. The new executive order is aimed at the “independent agencies,” so named because the heads of those agencies do not serve at the pleasure of the president. By statute, they serve for a term of years and can be removed from office only “for cause,” which usually means misbehavior unrelated to the exercise of ...

Administration Pandering to Anti-Regulatory Business Leaders Gets Cold Shoulder

by Matthew Freeman | June 17, 2011
The Washington Post reports today on the White House’s latest failed effort to extract political gain from the President’s misguided “regulatory look-back,” led with disturbing enthusiasm by Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The story tells us a lot about the thinking of the man who controls access to the President, and also lays bare a failing of the way the media covers regulatory issues. According to the Post, White House chief of ...

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