A story in Yesterday's L.A. Times gives the details of how the loosening of the rule came about (free registration is required at LA Times, so this link is to Common Dreams):
The new rule, which took effect Monday, came after years of intense industry pressure, including court battles and behind-the-scenes agency lobbying. But environmentalists vowed Monday that the fight was not over, distributing internal White House documents that they said portrayed the new rule as a political payoff to an industry long aligned with the Republican Party and President Bush.
In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to "openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity."
Rove responded by forwarding the letter to top White House environmental advisors and scrawling a handwritten note directing an aide to talk to those advisors and "get a response ASAP."
Rove later wrote to Angelo, assuring him that there was a "keen awareness" within the administration of addressing not only environmental issues but also the "economic, energy and small business impacts" of the rule.
Although the Bush Administrations says that the letter had nothing at all to do with the loosening of the rule, the story goes on to state a few interesting facts.
- Ernest Angelo was mayor in Midland Texas back when George W. Bush ran an oil firm into the ground there. Angelo is a long-time hunting partner of Carl Rove.
- Angelo was also quoted after the rule change as saying that his letter might have made a difference in how it was written.
- Several Senators sent a letter to the EPA asking if the Angelo letter to Rove had any influence over the loosening of the rule. The EPA never responded to that question.
Just another example that this White House is bought and paid for by big business, most notably Big Oil. The well being of the environment or the health and safety of the average citizen matters little to this Administration. When a big oil exec decides to write a letter, that gets major attention, and their demands are magically manifested into new government policy.