"Obama Overhaul of Regulatory Reviews Now Seen as Unlikely"

"There's 'no chance' that President Obama will rework the executive policies carried over from his predecessor that tell agencies how to write regulations and outline a White House oversight role, academics and activists say.

Obama had raised expectations for major changes in his first weeks in office, when he requested recommendations for new executive orders, or E.O., on issues such as scientific integrity, public disclosure and regulatory review, touting them as part of a plan to make his administration "the most open and transparent in history." He also scrapped several George W. Bush-era revisions to Executive Order 12866, which President Clinton had issued to allow the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review and edit regulations before they are proposed.

Open-government groups have criticized the transparency of OIRA's regulatory reviews, saying the public should be able to see the differences between the draft regulations that come into the office and versions that go out. The office has also become a battleground for environmentalists and industry groups concerned about the use of cost-benefit analysis in regulatory review.

The White House Office of Management and Budget took public comment on regulatory policy last year, and while the issues raised were expected to be addressed by a presidential order, many were laid out in a recent memo issued by OIRA chief Cass Sunstein. The memo, released last month, could 'signal the death of more official efforts to overhaul the regulatory process,' activist group OMB Watch said in a recent blog post."

Gabriel Nelson reports for Greenwire July 14, 2010.

Thursday, July 15, 2010