EPA Ordered to Release California Emissions Waiver Documents to Congress

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to release all documents pertaining to Administrator Stephen Johnson’s controversial blocking of California’s waiver to control greenhouse gasses in that state.

The announcement came in an email released by Public Employees forEnvironmental Responsibility (PEER), saying Johnson has bowed to a Congressional request for the information, following the controversy sparked by his controversial decision.

PEER’s Executive Director Jeff Ruch is quoted as saying: “What made Johnson’s decision so striking is that for months he said he was basing it on the scientific and legal merits and then did the precise opposite. One employee told me ‘I am ashamed to admit that I work at EPA’ and another asked ‘What am I supposed to tell my children when they ask me what I am doing to fight global warming?’”

Johnson has said he will not attend a field hearing of Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA), Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on January 10th in Los Angeles. His appearance before Congress, however, promises to be contentious at best.
Senator Boxer, referring to Johnson’s action, says “you overrode the recommendations of your technical and legal staff in the making of this decision”.

16 other states have adopted legislation establishing the same rules as California, calling for a 30% reduction in tailpipe greenhouse emissions in new cars and trucks by the year 2016, starting with the 2009 model year. The rules are a far cry from reductions called for in the newly enacted energy bill.

Granting California’s waiver would allow other states to move ahead with similar legislation, forcing automakers to bring cleaner vehicles to the market much sooner, not only in those 17 states, but to everyone. I doubt automakers will try to use their flimsy “patchwork” excuse for not upgrading their products sooner.

It will be interesting to see how Congress and the administration handle the situation, and whether the administration will stand by the new energy bill and force states to comply with those regulations.

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