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Obama halts last-minute Bush regs


Pres. Barack Obama yesterday put all pending regulatory changes made in the waning months of the Bush administration on hold until he has a chance to review them.

Obama spokesperson Bill Burton told The Washington Post he's not sure how many regs are affected by the order. Former Bush official Susan Dudley of the Office of Management and Budget said the administration had issued 100 rules since November. But it’s not clear how many of them have already taken effect.

A spokesperson at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said today that one of the most controversial of the last-minute Bush measures took effect yesterday. That reg, known as the "right to conscience" rule, allows the government to withhold money from federally funded health care facilities that do not make allowances for workers who refuse on moral grounds to help administer certain procedures, such as abortions. Reproductive rights groups last week sued to block the reg from taking effect, charging that it's unlawful.  

Another rule allows federal regulators to ignore the potential carbon dioxide output of new coal-fired plants when considering applications for permission to build them. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson said the agency would clarify the status of that reg later today. 

In another last-minute move, Bush last week took the gray wolf off the list of endangered species in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho and Montana, drawing jeers from enviros.

Image by Matthias Kotter via Wikimedia Commons

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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