Accelerating oil shale development across 2 million acres, okaying an auction for gas drilling by three national parks, weakening endangered species protection, allowing more mining waste in rivers and streams, and exempting factory farms from air pollution reporting...just a few of the 53 "midnight regulations" President George W. Bush has launched in the past three weeks -- many of them aimed at the West.
While with one hand he welcomes the Obamas to the White House in an oh-so-friendly and collegial manner, with the other Bush is rushing his anti-environmental rules so that the President-elect can't easily overturn them when he takes over in January.
For example, in July the administration proposed rules for leasing millions of acres of public land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for oil shale development, even though the process would take unknown amounts of power and water, and create significant global warming emissions and toxic waste. The rules were finalized this week.
The Natural Resources Defense Council said oil shale production is expected to emit four times more global warming pollution than production of conventional gasoline -- making it the dirtiest fuel on the planet.
Quoted in the LA Times, Colorado senator Ken Salazar said Bush had "fallen into the trap of allowing political timelines to trump sound policy."
Officials went through 250,000 public comments on Bush's proposal to exempt federal projects from provisions of the Endangered Species Act in less than a week. "They've clearly made a predetermined decision to issue it no matter what the public comments say," said NRDC director Andrew Wetzler.
And this is just the beginning. He still has 60 days left.
"The Bush administration is trying to prevent Obama from doing to it what it did to Clinton," said Matt Madia, an analyst for OMB Watch, a Washington-based watchdog group.