Shortly after his party's "shellacking" in the midterm election, President Obama ordered government agencies to ensure that new regulations took economic growth into consideration and that old ones be revoked if they "stifle job creation or make our economy less competitive." Five months later, it's becoming pretty clear what he meant: The environment and public health will be thrown under a bus for the sake of his reelection in 2012.
The latest victim of the administration's new political direction is a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions from industrial boilers, which power oil refineries, chemical plants and other factories. The EPA indefinitely rescinded the proposal this week, citing Obama's January executive order on regulations and claiming that the agency hadn't had time to properly address industry concerns about the rule since a draft was released in September. The EPA first proposed a version of the boiler rules in 2004, and it has had ample time and input to get it right by now.
Also put on a slow track by the administration are new rules on storing toxic coal ash, an issue EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she'd address in the wake of a disastrous Tennessee spill in 2008; earlier this month, EPA officials said they wouldn't get around to finishing the rules, which were expected by the end of last year, until at least 2012. The powerful coal industry scored another victory when the administration delayed an EPA guideline on mountaintop-removal mining last month.