It’s hard keeping up with EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson’s many efforts at squelching staff recommendations and issuing industry-friendly decisions, I know. But House sleuth Henry Waxman (D-CA) is doing his best. And interviews with EPA staff are revealing the extent of Johnson’s foot-dragging and stonewalling.
Last week, we noted that Johnson seemed to be ignoring a decision by the Supreme Court. The Court said the EPA could no longer avoid deciding whether greenhouse gases were pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. But almost one year later, Johnson still hasn’t released an official determination.
But as Waxman has found out — and as he detailed in a letter to Johnson yesterday — the EPA has already done all the necessary work. EPA employees told his staff in interviews that a team of 60 to 70 hashed it out last year and actually sent it to the White House in December (the EPA, of course, found that greenhouse gases did endanger public welfare). They also produced new regulations to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and trucks and sent that off to the Department of Transportation. But since then, nothing has been heard. It’s just sitting on the shelf.And as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) discovered when she asked Johnson how many staff are currently working on the greenhouse gas decision, there are none (unless you count Johnson himself).
He says that the energy bill which the president signed into law in December has changed the analysis. So he’s trying to figure out the “next steps.” Of course, that’s a legal argument which no one seems to buy — and as Waxman pointed out, it’s also an argument that the energy bill itself anticipated and rejected, as well as the Supreme Court’s opinion. So it’s just Johnson’s wonky way of stonewalling. The administration does not want stricter greenhouse gas rules and that’s that.
As I reported last week, environmental groups will soon return to court to force Johnson to issue his decision.