White House Role Cited in EPA Reversal on Emissions
As reported by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson favored giving California some authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks … before he consulted with the White House and reversed course, congressional investigators said yesterday.
As the article describes:
An extensive congressional investigation into Johnson’s conduct relied on more than 27,000 pages of EPA documents; interviews with top EPA officials served as other sources of information. The results of the investigation were just announced.
According to the agency’s documents and depositions by staff members, EPA officials unanimously endorsed granting California the waiver, and Johnson initially agreed. EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett testified under oath that Johnson “was very interested in a full grant of the waiver’ in August and September of 2007 and later thought a partial grant of the waiver ‘was the best course of action.”
The White House claims it did not influence Johnson’s decision but has ordered Johnson not to answer questions about White House involvement in the process. Seemingly at odds with his refusal to allow California a waiver of the Clean Air Act that would have imposed more stringent emissions standards on cars and trucks, Johnson did admit to reporters that he considers CO2 to be a pollutant.
Groups including the California Air Resources Board and the Natural Defense Resources Council (NRDC) are poised to show courts how tainted Johnson’s decision was, and how it ignored internal EPA science and external scientific advisers. The NRDC and other advocacy groups will submit a brief to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the EPA administrator’s decision.
As reported in the related story here at OhMyGov.com,
A briefing prepared by the lead staff lawyer for EPA’s General Counsel stated: “After review of the docket and precedent, we don’t believe there are any good arguments against granting the waiver. All of the arguments … are likely to lose in court if we are sued.”
In fact, the EPA staff interviewed by the Committee were unable to identify any agency documents that argued in favor of denial prior to December 19, 2007, the day California’s petition was denied.
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