One worry about departing presidents is that they try to jam through controversial rules in the final hours before handing over the keys to the White House.
But on key automotive issues, President Bush is taking the opposite approach, leaving long-promised decisions on tough problems to the incoming Obama administration.
In the latest punt, Bush's Department of Transportation said it won't issue a final rule on fuel economy standards for 2011-15 cars and trucks after all because the new administration will need to "conduct a thorough review of matters affecting the industry."
Earlier, the department reset the deadline for final action on a long-awaited update to vehicle-roof-strength standards to April 30, well into Barack Obama's term.
Officials also postponed implementation of new tests for the government's five-star safety rating program.
The delay in fuel economy rules seemed to make no one happy. Automakers said they need regulatory certainty for product planning.
Dan Becker, director of the advocacy group Safe Climate Campaign, said that the Bush administration "blew it again" on the environment. But now, he said hopefully, the Obama administration can impose something even tougher than the 25 percent increase in fuel economy by 2015 planned by Bush.
The deadline for new standards for 2011 models is April 1.