House Republicans are planning for extensive committee oversight of EPA in the 112th Congress. Rep. Cantor, R-Va., voted to be House Majority Leader next year, vowed that House committees will lead the GOP's review of costly executive rules and laws and will produce interim and final reports through the first half of ’11.

Several incoming Republican chairmen of committees with EPA oversight already have vowed hearings into the costs and scope of EPA rules. Rep. Lucas, R-Okla., incoming House Agriculture Committee chairman, is expected to investigate EPA's implementation of the FIFRA. Additional oversight also may take place within the House Science & Technology Committee, which oversees some issues related to FIFRA.

Rep. Issa, R-Calif., also is planning frequent hearings on EPA and other agencies as chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee. In response, Administrator Jackson has launched a preemptive defense of her agency's agenda in advance of expected assaults from Congressional Republicans, citing polls that showed broad public support for maintaining the government's role in environmental regulation and government analyses that have found that the health benefits of EPA rules far outweigh their costs.

Facing this push by the incoming House GOP majority to oversee federal agencies' rules, the White House is stepping up its oversight of EPA and other agencies' pending policies in a move that the Administration's regulatory review czar, Cass Sunstein, argues is helping to address industry concerns about the costs of the policies.

In a Nov. 30 speech at the Brookings Institution, Sunstein cited a host of regulatory review measures that he says work to "improve" regulations by delaying compliance dates, creating regulatory exemptions and softening their costs, an especially important concern given the continuing recession.

In what seems to be a change in administration policy, Sunstein touted the use of cost-benefit analysis as a "noteworthy development," praised public participation as a way to soften the cost of rules, called for early review of regulations that could harm small businesses and cited several examples where his office has amended EPA rules in response to industry concerns.

EPA also is slowing development of some of its major rules, including controversial rules setting new ozone air quality standards and emissions standards for industrial boilers, a move that is winning praise from industry groups.