Howard Shelanski may not be a name that exactly rolls off the tongue, but since finding his desk at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), he’s apparently been a busy guy. I’ve never been exactly clear on the specific scope of powers – or even the purpose, for that matter – of the OIRA. In the current era, it seems to be either a fast track runway for the EPA whitewash efforts to curtail unpopular forms of energy production, or a place where efforts to rein in oppressive regulation go to die. But as The Hill reports, Shelanski is at least trying to put a good face on things and stay busy.
Howard Shelanski has been quickly thrust into the mounting debate over efforts to curb climate change and has emerged as the face of the president’s initiative to cut away regulatory red tape.
In just his first month on the job, he has testified on behalf of the administration at multiple congressional hearings on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, met with business and labor groups to discuss new rules at the other and has started reaching out to the public to highlight the White House’s efforts.
To “highlight the White House’s efforts” to the public? Is this supposed to be a functional agency to evaluate regulations or a public relations office for the President’s agenda? Mr. Shelanski sat down recently with the American Petroleum Institute to discuss the disaster which is the Renewable Fuels Standard. (Disclosure.. I’ve done a fair bit of consulting with API in the past.) They came away with some polite words about how nice it was for the czar to take time out to talk with them, but nothing concrete beyond that.
The key point where the White House seems to want to put lipstick on this pig is the President’s claim that he’s actively looking to eliminate useless and expensive red tape in the regulatory process. Shelanski is hanging on to that one like a life preserver.
On Thursday, he penned his first post on the White House blog in support of institutionalizing a government-wide regulatory “lookback.”
“Review of existing regulations is a crucial part of ensuring that protecting our nation’s health, safety, and environment remains consistent with creating jobs and prosperity,” he wrote.
“This Administration will expand and further institutionalize our regulatory lookback efforts to ensure that we continue to identify rules that need to be modified, streamlined, or repealed.”
I’m not sure what this “lookback” is supposed to entail, but to date it doesn’t seem to involve doing away with or stopping any of the EPA’s rampage over job creation in the energy industry. Color me dubious, but all of this looks like little more than window dressing on the existing agenda in DC.