EPA chief Stephen Johnson has deployed a variety of methods to thwart Congressional scrutiny. There's been old fashioned stonewalling
. Testimonial gobbledygook
. And of course fleeing the hemisphere
But there's another recurring method: refusing to turn over internal EPA documents because they would "confuse" the public. Back in January, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wanted documents that show Johnson ignored his staff when he blocked California's attempt to institute tough greenhouse gas limits on cars and trucks. The EPA said no
, in part because "further disclosure could result in needless public confusion about the Administrator's decision." In other words, EPA experts said one thing and Johnson had said another. You can't have that getting out (even though it did
Staffers from the Senate environmental committee, which Boxer chairs, were finally able to see the documents, but only in EPA offices, and only then after peeling off layers of white tape
which the EPA had used to redact the offending portions of the documents.
Now the House global warming committee is after Johnson for his agency's failure to comply with a Supreme Court decision that declared that the EPA had to regulate greenhouse gases. Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) issued a subpoena for documents that show that the EPA had complied with the Court last December. EPA staff completed work on the matter
(as they've told Congressional investigators), but the political leadership has been sitting on it since then.
But Johnson, who's deployed a succession of transparent delaying tactics
to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, doesn't want to fork them over. His associate administrator writes
...EPA has grave concerns relating to the Committee's subpoena. In particular, we are concerned that the release of the deliberative, pre-decisional documents that do not reflect the Agency's final thinking would be injurious to important Executive Branch institutional prerogatives: such release may have a chilling effect on further deliberations in this and other matters; it may create erroneous impressions of the Agency's thinking; and it may raise questions about the Agency having reacted in response to, or having been influenced by, proceedings in a legislative or public forum outside the established administrative process.
The President has made clear that he doesn't want to see stricter mandatory limits on greenhouse gases anytime soon. If California was able to have its strict limits (standards that would also be adopted by more than a dozen other states), or if the EPA were to obey the Supreme Court and follow the Clean Air Act, it would result in a "regulatory nightmare." In other words, lower limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And the EPA is clearly doing everything it can to fight such an outcome.