Last December, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson denied California’s request to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the Senate released documents putting Johnson squarely in opposition with the scientific and legal experts on his staff when he denied the request.The documents were requested by Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who said:
“These documents paint a picture of an Environmental Protection Agency in crisis. They show the dedicated professional staff of the EPA working hard to do what they are paid to do by the American people – protect our health and our environment. At the same time, we see more and more evidence of Administrator Johnson ignoring the science and the facts, and discarding the advice of his professional staff.”
“I believe this decision will be reversed by the next President or by the courts, but the Administrator can save the taxpayers time and money, and can get us started cleaning up our air if he would simply follow the law, the facts, and the advice of his agency professionals.”
One memo to Johnson said:
“You have to find a way to get this done. If you cannot, you will face a pretty big personal decision about whether you are able to stay in the job under those circumstances. This is a choice only you can make, but I ask you to think about the history and the future of the agency in making it. If you are asked to deny this waiver, I fear the credibility of the agency that we both love will be irreparably damaged.”
You can read more in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Press Release.
In response to Boxer’s request for a full explanation of why California’s request was denied, the EPA said many of the documents contained “privileged information” that would not be shared with Congress. Christopher Bliley, EPA Associate Administrator wrote,
“EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California’s waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting.”
Still no word yet on where we go from here, the lawsuit filed by the State of California is still in the court process, and we may have to wait for a decision.
Unless, of course, Mr. Johnson would recant his decision, if that’s possible and allow California’s request for a waiver.
Or, will Mr. Johnson resign his post?
Meanwhile, twelve other states — Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — had adopted California’s tailpipe standards and the governors of Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Utah had said they also plan to adopt them. The rules were under consideration elsewhere, too.
Stay tuned, this is another illustration of your tax dollars at work, and maybe this time, for the good.