Bush Administration Formally Disavows EPA Staff Conclusion On Greenhouse Gases

July 11, 2008 4:52 pm

The Bush Administration has rejected plans to regulate the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, despite an EPA staff report that backed the idea.

The AP reports:

The White House on Thursday rejected EPA’s conclusion three weeks earlier that the 1970 Clean Air Act “can be both workable and effective for addressing global climate change.” Instead, EPA said Friday that law is “ill-suited” for dealing with climate change.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson released a 588-page federal notice (pdf) that included the EPA’s “staff draft” in favor of regulation, but said it does not reflect the administration’s policy.

To support that conclusion, Johnson included in the notice 95 pages of submissions from non-EPA federal officials who raised questions about any proposed regulation.

According to the Washington Post, a top White House concluded that concerns from those other federal officials prohibited reaching any firm decisions about regulation:

“The issues raised during interagency review are so significant that we have been unable to reach interagency consensus in a timely way, and as a result, this staff draft cannot be considered Administration policy or representative of the views of the Administration,” [White House Office of Management and Budget Susan] Dudley wrote. “As reflected in these letters, there is strong disagreement with many of the legal, analytical, economic, science and policy interpretations in the draft; however these letters do agree with you that the Clean Air Act is a deeply flawed and unsuitable vehicle for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

(That’s the same Susan Dudley who may be held in contempt of Congress along with Johnson.)

Critics of today’s notice said it pitted politics against science.

John D. Walke, director of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, said, “This appalling document pits the Bush administration’s political machinery against EPA’s scientific and legal experts, with the machinery grinding up sound global warming science, legal authority, smart economics and solutions to the problem. These actions by the administration’s political machinery deserve to end up, along with the administration’s irresponsible global warming legacy, in the dustbin of history.”

The notice was released under pressure from the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the EPA should consider whether to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases.

Johnson made clear his views on the matter in a letter that accompanied the release od the 1,000-page report.

One point is clear: the potential regulations of greenhouse gases under any portion of the Clean Air Act could result in an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority that would have a profound effect on virtually every sector of the economy.

We sort of knew this was coming, since the White House had refused to open an email delivering the EPA staff’s conclusions about greenhouse gases.

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