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  Sierra Magazine
  November/December 2008
Table of Contents
Ice Manliness Cometh
A Six-Dog-Power Engine
I (Heart) Snowshoeing
Skiing Yellowstone
Welcome Back to the World
Rotten Fish Tales
Big Fun in the Green Zone
Hey Mr. Green
Comfort Zone
Mixed Media
Last Words
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Sierra Magazine

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Lay of the Land

Three Strikes, You're Hired | Ten Reasons to Oppose "Fast Track" | No Net Loss? No Comment | Spreading Their Wings | Costly Corn | Deadly Winter for Monarchs | It Pays to be Popular | Honor Thy Father | Sprawl | WWatch | Bold Strokes | Updates

WWatch: Keeping Tabs on George W. Bush

Monkey Wrench Gang

By Reed McManus

Meet the rule killers. The little-known but powerful Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, part of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has singled out more than a dozen environmental rules that it considers "obsolete or outmoded, and could be rescinded or updated." Its report relies on and liberally quotes industry lobbyists and free-market think tanks, so among the rules deemed "high priority" for scrutiny are some near and dear to environmentalists: The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which bans new roadbuilding in national forests. Temporary, "low impact" roads might be a better alternative, a free-market think tank suggests in the report. Forest Service planning rules, which "polarize" the public, according to comments. "The Forest Service should consider alternatives to planning, such as an increased reliance on markets and incentive-based mechanisms." Hardrock mining reform, whose "requirements to perform Environmental Assessments are unnecessary and costly."

A proposed snowmobile ban in Rocky Mountain National Park, which "claims one set of users is superior to another" and could hurt local businesses. Federal guidelines for concentrated animal feeding operations, which could be replaced with "community-based approaches that rely on market incentives."

And, in case you thought at least one key issue had been put to rest, arsenic standards for drinking water. Seven months after the Bush administration suspended a new ten-parts-per-billion standard for arsenic, in November the EPA announced that it would adopt the tough rule. But the White House's regulatory office thinks this drinking issue is good for another round.

Granted sweeping authority by the Bush administration, the regulatory office can slow, stall, or simply kill new rules, no matter how long they've been in planning. "It's the molasses that slows the wheels of government," says Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program.

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