When President Bush nominated Susan Dudley to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) last year, her nomination didn’t make it out of the Senate committee. (See Celeste Monforton’s post on Dudley’s underwhelming performance before the committee.) Yesterday, Bush avoided Senate opposition by giving Dudley a recess appointment.

As head of OIRA, Dudley will be able to block regulations proposed by government agencies — and since she thinks that markets do a better job of regulating than the government does, she’ll probably do a lot of blocking.

“Dudley’s record is one of anti-regulatory extremism,” said Rick Melberth, Director of Regulatory Policy at OMB Watch, which published a report last year entitled The Cost Is Too High: How Susan Dudley Threatens Public Protections. “She has opposed some of our nation’s most basic environmental, workplace safety and public health protections.” In an LA Times article, Joel Havemann describes some of Dudley’s anti-regulatory positions:

In congressional testimony, Dudley has favored dispensing with costly air pollution controls and initiating a pollution warning system “so that sensitive individuals can take appropriate ‘exposure avoidance’ behavior” — mostly by remaining inside.

She opposed stricter limits on arsenic in drinking water, in part because she argued that the Environmental Protection Agency’s calculations of the costs and benefits overvalued some lives, particularly those of older people with a small life expectancy.

She has argued that air bags should not be required by government regulation but requested by automobile consumers willing to pay for them.

Public health advocates are distressed by Bush’s action, but not surprised. Bush’s choice of a staunch regulation opponent to a key regulatory position fits in with the other actions he has taken to hobble the the regulatory process.