As clock ticks away, Quayle, lobbyists bear down on Bush

January 15, 1993|By Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- Backed by an assortment of industrial lobbyists, Vice President Dan Quayle urged President Bush early this week to weaken a tough air pollution regulation.

So far, after a bitter internal dispute between his top aides, Mr. Bush has rebuffed Mr. Quayle's plea. But the episode is a vivid example of how lobbyists, aides and top administration officials are fighting for the president's approval on a variety of last-minute actions before he leaves office.

In his last days, Mr. Bush has taken some actions that Mr. Clinton would probably oppose, most notably the Christmas Eve pardon of five former officials in the Iran-contra affair. He also has disobeyed a federal judge's order and appointed a longtime friend to the Postal Service Board of Governors.

But as Mr. Bush's tentative rejection of the Quayle overture demonstrates, the president has not undertaken a "scorched earth" policy by releasing a flood of controversial actions, as some critics had feared.

"There was an attempt" to issue regulations that would please various corporate interests, "but it got quashed," said Gary Bass, director of OMB Watch, a private group that reviews regulations put out by the White House Office of Management and Budget. && "Too many people were watching."

One of the most intense internal struggles of Mr. Bush's last days has been a fight between Mr. Quayle and William Reilly, who heads the Envi

ronmental Protection Agency, over several environmental rules.

Some industry representatives hoped Mr. Bush would use his authority to weaken some environmental regulations.

According to Mr. Reilly's top deputy on air pollution, William Rosenberg, since the election Mr. Bush has sided with the EPA and against industry lobbyists on numerous environmental matters.

"There has been a sea change," Mr. Rosenberg said, adding that the president has shifted away from the influence of Mr. Quayle's Council on Competitiveness and toward the EPA.

That has upset some powerful corporate interest groups.

"I can't wait for George to leave town," said David Branand, counsel for the National Coal Association.

In contrast, some environmentalists are guardedly optimistic.

"I think the Bush administration may have decided there was no percentage in playing to the polluters anymore," said a Sierra Club lobbyist, Daniel Weiss.

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