The Environmental Protection Agency's reaction to oversight has been less than friendly. Administrator Stephen Johnson's crew never misses the chance to redact
the particularly embarrassing parts of agency documents. House sleuth Henry Waxman (D-CA) has already issued two subpoenas
for EPA documents when they weren't promptly forthcoming.
But now the EPA wants a little something from Waxman
: transcripts for the interviews Waxman's staff has done with seven senior EPA staffers. Waxman is investigating Johnson's decision to overrule
the unanimous recommendation of his legal and technical staff and block California's greenhouse gas rules.
Now, why would the agency want to know what its own employees are telling congressional investigators? A cynic might say that Johnson wants to know what his staff are saying so that he's prepared for any unpleasant questions when Waxman finally asks him to testify before the House oversight committee. After all, there's such a gulf between the EPA's staff and the political appointees that union representatives have backed out
of a cooperation agreement. But the EPA says otherwise
The EPA "has an interest in ensuring that the information provided ... by agency employees in their official capacity is accurate and complete," wrote [EPA Associate Administrator Christopher Bliley] in a letter dated March 14, a day after Waxman had issued a subpoena for 196 internal EPA documents.
It's a reasoning reminiscent of the agency's refusal
to turn over documents showing that Johnson had ignored his staff's recommendation. Agency lawyers argued then that the documents shouldn't be turned over because "many of the documents are pre-decisional and thus do not reflect the Agencyâs full and complete thinking on the matter." So you might say that the EPA frequently expresses discomfort with the idea of the public getting information that the EPA would rather keep mum.