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White House wants regulators to resist "sprint to the finish" (6/18)

In a May 9, 2008 memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies such as OSHA and EPA, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten warned regulators to “resist the historical tendency of administrations to increase regulatory activity in their final months” as the Bush White House sprints “to the finish.”

A copy of the memo, obtained by ISHN from the blog, OSHA Underground, said every regulatory agency “should avoid issuing regulations that are unnecessary. Except in extraordinary circumstances, regulations to be finalized in this Administration should be proposed no later than June 1, 2008, and final regulations should be issued no later than November 1, 2008.

Unless the recent series of fatal crane collapses qualifies as “extraordinary circumstances,” this White House deadline dims prospects of OSHA issuing a proposal to update its standards for cranes and derricks. The agency had not done so by June 1.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, the American Society of Safety Engineers, OSHA’s construction advisory panel and members of the negotiated rulemaking committee who prepared a draft rule for OSHA have called on the agency to issue a proposal.

In his memo, Bolten said “agencies should… make careful and coordinated policy choices that do not impose undue regulatory burdens on the American people. He added, “I also want to emphasize that nothing in this memorandum alters or impedes the ability of executive departments and agencies to perform their responsibilities under existing law.”

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