20. THE GAME OF 'KICK THE CAN' WILL END

The Bush administration's game plan on environmental regulations has been, in many cases, to enact preposterous regulations, fight all legal challenges to them, have courts throw out the regulations, and return to step one. This creates the appearance of action, without actually forcing industry to do anything.

A perfect example is the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the EPA enacted in 2005 to cap emissions — after first wasting time attempting to get Congress to pass a similar system under the so-called Clear Skies bill.

A federal appeals court threw out CAIR earlier this year, stating it was completely incompatible with the Clean Air Act it was supposedly regulating. Which leaves us in exactly the same state of non-regulation in which the whole process began.

The same cycle happened with the mercury-pollution part of Clean Skies. Again, the 2005 EPA rules were thrown out by the courts this year. In that case, the EPA is appealing to the Supreme Court, ensuring no action before Bush leaves office.

David S. Bernstein can be reached atdbernstein@phx.com.

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