There are also a whole host of air and water policies, ranging from mercury levels to smog standards, that environmentalists would like to see the EPA strengthen. In its waning days, in fact, the Bush administration's EPA is attempting to publish more rules that, if finalized, will likely lead to large increases in lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions from factories and power plants. The Obama administration could issue new rules to overturn the changes.
That process could be lengthy. But it doesn't have to be, since in many cases proposals for more stringent rules already exist—they've simply been cast aside. "There is already a whole base of knowledge out there, so this doesn't have to take forever" Steinzor says. "The most important thing for [Obama transition cochairman] John Podesta and the transition team is to make sure they have people in place, sitting at their desks."