After two years of deliberations -- and against the unanimous recommendation of his staff -- EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson decided to prevent California from instituting strict greenhouse gas emission rules.
When he issued the decision, it came in the form of a two-page letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Such decisions are usually delivered in the form of a lengthy, formal paper. Critics of Johnson's decision (i.e. Democrats, environmental groups, and attorneys general from several states) have pointed to that as evidence that Johnson issued the decision hastily, arbitrarily, and without technical or legal backup.
Well, today, two months after that two-page letter, the EPA finally submitted the paperwork. The basic reasoning remains the same. The thrust behind the 48-page document is that California's request does not meet the "compelling and extraordinary conditions" necessary for a waiver to be granted since global warming is a problem not unique to California -- an argument that his staff directly rejected, as agency memos have shown.
This filing allows the lawsuit filed by California and 17 other states to finally get going. EPA memos also show that staff warned Johnson that the EPA would lose such a lawsuit -- but Johnson, much to the satisfaction of the auto industry and the White House -- went ahead and denied the waiver anyway.
Johnson has already been grilled twice about his decision, and he's got at least a couple more rounds in the ring to look forward to. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, will hold a hearing March 5th. And House sleuth Henry Waxman (D-CA) will most likely invite Johnson to get grilled at some point in the future once his oversight committee finishes interviewing EPA staffers and collecting evidence.