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Bush bypassing Senate to name conservative academic to post
Ron Brynaert
Published: Wednesday April 4, 2007
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President Bush intends to bypass the Senate in order to name a "conservative academic" to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reports.

"Bypassing a reluctant Senate, President Bush will use a recess appointment to name a conservative academic to the White House's top regulatory post," Henry Pulizzi writes for WSJ. "The move, expected to be announced today, will fill a position that has been vacant for more than a year, and could help the White House use the regulatory process to shape policy."

According to the paper, "Susan Dudley, the former head of regulatory studies at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, has generated opposition from environmentalists and liberal interest groups, who say she would carry out a pro-business agenda at the expense of public health and safety."

Saturday's LA Times noted that Dudley and two others that the president wishes to appoint "have ties to industries that face costly Environmental Protection Agency restrictions, and all three have previously bypassed or questioned the EPA's scientific process."

"They are William Wehrum, who would head the air office of the EPA; Alex A. Beehler, chosen to be the EPA's inspector general; and Susan Dudley, who would become White House regulations chief," Judy Pasternak wrote for the LA Times.

The Wall Street Journal reported last August that "Ms. Dudley, who had an earlier turn as a staff economist at OIRA and the Environmental Protection Agency, calls herself a 'free-market environmentalist,' who wants to protect the environment through 'market-based incentives.'"

In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll writes that Dudley "is already on record as believing that the EPA rules are too strict."

Carroll adds, "In her writings while at the center, she argued that the government should keep its big nose out of areas like smog, air bags and energy regulation. (Yes, the return of the free market to the energy sector certainly benefited the people of California.) She's also big on arsenic in drinking water -- she doesn't mind it so much. She wrote that the EPA should not value the lives of older people as highly as the lives of younger people when making arsenic calculations."

Excerpts from WSJ article:

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Her nomination to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, also met resistance in the Senate last year. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee didn't vote on her nomination after the panel's Democrats expressed concern at a confirmation hearing in November.

Despite the Senate's lukewarm reception, Bush renominated Ms. Dudley in January, and gave her an advisory position at OIRA later in the month. The recess appointment will place Ms. Dudley at the helm of OIRA until December 2008, when the current Congress ends.

Though little known, OIRA is powerful. The office reviews federal agencies' regulations, which have a big impact on companies and consumers. It can return proposed regulations to agencies if it thinks the rules need more work.

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