The not-so-lame duck president?

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Back in August, it was revealed that the Bush Administration planned to relax endangered species rules that would cut out the advice of government scientists who have had an input on such matters for 35 years. If successful, Bush would accomplish through rule changes what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress; namely, ending environmental reviews that developers blame for delays and cost increases on projects. Undeterred by the 250,000 objections received by lawmakers and environmentalists, the Interior Department has been rushing to bring in the rule changes by 21November, or Obama can undo them with the stroke of a pen when he is sworn on 20 January. However, if the new rules do go through, they will be difficult to overturn since it would require the new administration to restart the rule-making process. The only way to avoid this scenario would be for Congress to reverse the rule changes through the Congressional Review Act; a law that allows review of new federal regulations. This law has only been used once in the last 12 years, but given the huge antipathy towards the Bush Administration, there would appear to be a high probability that this law will be employed to block the endangered species rules and other ‘last minute’ regulation changes.

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