On May 30, 1997, Dick Cheney dispatched a two-page letter to Vice President Al Gore in hopes of staving off new federal regulations that presumably would prove both cumbersome and costly to Halliburton Company, the global oil-field services firm that Cheney had run since 1995.
The letter was obtained exclusively by the Center for Public Integrity through a recent Freedom of Information Act request.
At issue was a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency, announced some six months earlier, designed to make national air-quality standards more stringent. "We are now hoping to hear from a wide range of the American people," EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner declared upon announcing the proposal, "from scientists and environmentalists to industry experts, small business owners, doctors and parents, to receive the broadest possible public comment and input on this important issue."
Browner got her wish, and then some: both EPA and Gore's office were besieged with comments, with environmentalists and health-care advocates generally lending their support to the proposal and business interests, worried about increased costs for compliance, insisting that the revised standards were not only based on questionable science, but they offered uncertain health benefits and would cause the sort of economic harm that could ripple throughout society.