WASHINGTON -- Since taking office 10 weeks ago, the Bush
administration has delayed or reversed scores of regulations pushed
through in the waning weeks of President Clinton's term.
The regulations involve such diverse issues as arsenic in
drinking water, medical privacy and snowmobiling in Yellowstone
The latest regulation to get the axe was the so-called
"blacklisting" rule, which would have allowed federal agencies to
deny contracts to companies that may have violated federal laws.
The rule, adopted by the Clinton administration a day before it
left office, grew out of a pledge former Vice President Al Gore made
to AFL-CIO leaders in 1997. It was strongly supported by unions and
hotly opposed by business groups.
John Schachter, a spokesman for the Business Roundtable, a
lobbying organization for business groups, said companies opposed
the rule because it would have barred those suspected of violating
federal rules or laws -- but not convicted -- from receiving
The rule, which already had been delayed for 60 days, will be
suspended for nine moths, including two months for public comments,
after which it may be revised or revoked.
While the environmentalist community has been the most vociferous
in objecting to the delays and reversals, the business community has
applauded for Bush's actions, particularly his support for a
congressional reversal of workplace injury regulations -- the so-
called ergonomics rules -- adopted in December after a dozen years
in the making.
"The last weeks of the Clinton administration were a gift-
wrapping party for his most important and influential contributors,"
said Bill Miller, political director for the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce. "The Bush administration has prudently said, `before we
move forward with implementing these (regulations) let's make sure
that they were done right.'"
Alys Campaigne, legislative director for the National Resources
Defense Council, said the decisions have less to do with policy than
politics. "People are getting the best policy that money can buy,"
Campaigne said. "The industries that were the big fund-raisers in
the campaign seem to be doing handsomely."
Anna Aurillo, legislative director of U.S. Public Interest
Research Group, said the arsenic rule is a prime example of a
regulation being withdrawn in the face of overwhelming scientific
evidence that it is needed.
The withdrawn regulation would have changed the 1940s standard of
50 parts of arsenic per billion in drinking water to 10 parts per
billion, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and
adopted by many leading industrialized nations.
"Arsenic is a known carcinogen. It doesn't take a rocket
scientist to know you don't want arsenic in your drinking water,"
Democrats have seized on the rule reversals, hoping to tap a rich
vein of public outrage. …