From the 2009 News Archive
Hear Prof. Percival Discuss "Midnight Regulations" on NPR
As Director of the University of Maryland School of Law Environmental Law Program, Professor Robert Percival
is nationally recognized as an expert in environmental law and, particularly, environmental regulation. On November 25, Professor Percival discussed the outgoing Bush administrationís attempts to enact so called "midnight regulations" on National Public Radio.
Most outgoing presidential administrations in recent history have engaged in this final push to enact regulations as they leave office. Professor Percival said there are typically two main types of "midnight regulations:" those regulations already long in the pipeline that need to be finalized before the administration leaves office, and, the more problematic type, hastily drafted regulations that are efforts to tie the hands of the new administration from changing policies in the future.
"This administration has had one of the worst records in history on environmental, health and safety regulations and, in many cases, [Bush's "midnight regulations"] are parting gifts to the oil companies and developers," Percival said.
While some of these last minute rules can be temporarily suspended, reversed or even overturned by Congressional vote, the process is elaborate and lengthy. These regulations are even more difficult to reverse if they involve something like opening up public land for private development, like oil leasing.
"Once the lease has been issued, it creates an entitlement that's very difficult for the government to take away," said Percival.
While the current administration has been rushing to make changes to the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act, and are fast tracking the leasing of public lands near national parks, the incoming president's transition team has been monitoring the situation very closely.
"Most of these regulations have been rushed through the process so fast," commented Professor Percival, "that I think they are legally vulnerable and it will be much easier for the Obama administration to overturn them than it was for the Bush administration to overturn some of the Clinton administrationís last minute regulations."
Listen to the complete broadcast of WYPRís "Maryland Morning"
Professor Percival is the Robert F. Stanton Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental Law Program
at the University of Maryland School of Law. He is principal author of the countryís most widely used casebook in environmental law, Environmental Regulation: Law, Science & Policy
, now in its fifth edition. He has written extensively on several topics, including environmental law, regulatory policy, federalism, presidential powers, and legal history. Percival has taught as a visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School and Georgetown University Law Center. He currently teaches Environmental Law, Comparative Environmental Law, Constitutional Law, and Administrative Law. In 2007, he was named the University's 'Teacher of the Year.'