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Obama calls halt to last minute Bush regulations to Endangered Species Act and other environmental issues

January 21, 2009 -- The administration of President Barack Obama is freezing all pending regulations issued by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked federal agencies and departments to block regulations that aren’t yet final until a review can be conducted by the new administration, according to a statement issued today to White House correspondents.

In the closing weeks of his administration, Bush attempted to strip the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections of many of their safeguards against unscrupulous developers and environmentally damaging projects. Other attempted changes included rules that critics said make it more difficult to protect U.S. workers from exposure to toxic chemicals, reduce ...(Continued)  the use of employee medical leave and open more land to oil and gas exploration. These efforts were supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry organizations.

Not all of Bush’s so-called midnight rules became final when he left office, and Emanuel’s action blocks those still pending. The administration’s statement didn’t say which rules were affected.

Presidents have issued late-term regulations to push agendas and help create their legacies since John Adams named federal judges hours before his presidency ended in 1801. The appointees were nicknamed the midnight judges.

New administrations have also sought to stop proposals made in the last days of the previous president. Bush froze publication of rules in the Federal Register when he took office, blocking regulations sought by President Bill Clinton.

Generally, regulations become effective 60 or 30 days after being published in the Federal Register, a daily government publication.