One Thumb Up? Or Too Soon to Tell?

Mixed Reviews
Mixed Reviews

The Administration has received mixed reviews so far.  The Washington Post said on Wednesday that:

The White House’s main effort has been to undo several Bush-era policies on climate control, air pollution and the regulation of roadless forests. Those actions, combined with court decisions that have struck down other rules, have given President Obama a relatively blank canvas on which to redraw U.S. environmental policy. But the administration has been cautious, leaving key issues in limbo and questions unanswered about the way it would balance environmentalism and the economy.

The New Republic praises Obama’s energy and climate initiative but expresses concerns about other policies:

Still, it’s true that on other, less-trumpeted issues, from air pollution to protecting roadless forests, the administration has been remarkably restrained so far, taking only cautious steps to reverse some of the major Bush-era decisions. And, on issues like mountaintop-removal mining—a particularly destructive practice that’s tearing apart Appalachia—many environmentalists have deemed the Obama EPA an outright disappointment. . .

From the anti-regulatory side, the corresponding verdict presumably would be “bad, but could be worse.”

But it typically takes new administrations a number of months to crank up new regulations, according to my colleague Anne Joseph O’Connell who has made a careful empirical study of the timing of regulatory initiatives.  She found that: “Rather than capitalizing quickly on their electoral mandates, Presidents generally started fewer, not more, rules in the first year of their terms than in later years.” So the next year will probably be more significant, one way or another.


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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