White House extends control over agencies

Contributed by
Jan 29, 2007
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Was that a chill I just saw run over all my science books?

From the New York Times today (free registration required, and emphasis mine):

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts.

Yeah, this makes me feel better. That's worked so well for science in the past. It goes on:

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

[...]

Besides placing political appointees in charge of rule making, Mr. Bush said agencies must give the White House an opportunity to review "any significant guidance documents" before they are issued.

I'm shocked. Shocked.

One thing scientists do is analyze patterns, and this one is pretty clear. No good will come of this, and much ill certainly will. Expect James Hansen's head to explode any minute now.