The Bush administration showed a "pre-determined hostility" toward regulation in reviewing, and in some cases weakening, environmental protections adopted under President Clinton, according to a new report, entitled "Rewriting the Rules," released by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee.

On President Bush's very first day in office, his chief of staff, Andrew Card, issued a memo directing that agencies halt all regulatory activity pending a review of Clinton-era rules by Bush political appointees. After sifting through thousands of documents turned over by the administration, committee staff found that this review was "characterized by a troubling lack of respect for long-established regulatory procedures, an attempt to give short shrift to public input when possible, and to discount the science or record that supported the rules under review," according to the report.

The report gives particular attention to three rules "subjected to the administration's second-guessing":

  • The administration chose not to defend a rule protecting roadless areas in national forests against a court challenge.

  • A standard for arsenic in drinking water was in danger of being torpedoed by the Bush administration - documents show the Office of Management and Budget pressured EPA to relax the standard, according to the report. Ultimately, the administration decided to uphold the Clinton standard after a political firestorm and an additional study by the National Academy of Sciences that again demonstrated the need for the rule.

  • A rule restricting hard rock mining on public lands was initially suspended by the administration, and parts of it were repealed, permitting unwarranted environmental and health risks, according to the report.