EPA Do-Nothing

“Unlike pollutants covered by other waivers, greenhouse gas emissions harm the environment in California and elsewhere, regardless of where the emissions occur,” he said. “Therefore, this challenge is not exclusive or unique to California.”

Therefore, California may do nothing… Thus sayeth EPA chief, Stephen Johnson, in one more demonstration of the cynical use of states rights practiced by the GOP. Ten people in the room are now or soon will be bitten by the mosquitoes in the room. Mr. Johnson says, no one can scratch until all scratch. No one can swat until all swat.

Friday, he sat before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and benefited from some direct speech.

“Your agency’s decision to deny California a waiver just defies logic to me,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

“I have never seen such disregard and disrespect by an agency head for Congress and for the committees with the responsibility for oversight of his agency,” Boxer said.

“…shameful, outrageous and irresponsible.” Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said the ruling infringes on states’ rights and undercuts state efforts to fight climate change.

Coile – SF Chronicle

As inflammatory as the EPA denial of action by California and many other states, was the cover-up and withholding of documents prepared by EPA staff. Johnson’s decision did not follow the recommendations. He did not want to share this with his interrogators. After citing Attorney-Client privilege EPA lawyers partially relented last week and allowed Senate committee staff to review and take notes of the documents, but not make any copies —while watched by EPA staff.

One more point of interest, which neither the SF Chronicle nor the NY Times make mention of but the LA Times highlights —

Shortly before Stephen L. Johnson was sworn in by President Bush as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, he gave the president a towel symbolizing a New Testament passage in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. The towel, given to graduates of Johnson’s alma mater, a small evangelical college, symbolizes a life of Christian service.

Like the president, Johnson is a deeply religious man who says he relies on his faith in his work. Johnson prayed and spoke gratefully of early-morning prayer sessions held in his government office in a promotional video filmed there for an offshoot of a worldwide Christian ministry.

What is the remedy for Johnson’s action? The hearing itself can only hear, and holler. As a result of the hearing, however, Senators Boxer and Feinstein and 14 other senators introduced legislation that would override the EPA ruling. Will this be joined hby House action and survive a Bush veto? Hard to know, but at least the fight is joined.

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