Journalism in the Public Interest


Waxman Grills EPA Administrator After Investigation Suggests White House Interference

In a Congressional hearing yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) grilled EPA chief Stephen Johnson about the White House’s decision to overrule EPA scientists and ban California from regulating greenhouse gases. But in the latest example of a pattern of defiance, Johnson refused to divulge details of his conversations with the White House. Nor did he hand over documents subpoenaed by Waxman. (Johnson’s reluctance to provide substantive information in response to Congressional requests has surfaced repeatedly during his tenure, as TPM Muckraker reported here and here.)

Waxman has been investigating the EPA’s decision for months, accumulating (by his office’s count) 27,000 pages of documents, which they’ve now posted on the Web. We haven’t exactly gotten around to reading all of them, but some documents have already caught our eyes. For example, in a September 21, 2007 meeting, an EPA staffer described Johnson polling the staff on whether they supported or did not support the waiver: 

“According to five EPA staff who were in the meeting, not a single staffer argued that the California waiver should be denied,” states Waxman’s 20-page memorandum summarizing the investigation’s key findings.

In a deposition taken on May 15, 2008, then-EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett said that Johnson “was very interested in a full grant of the waiver,” but he changed his mind after communicating with the White House. According to Burnett’s deposition, Johnson was not allowed to discuss the White House’s involvement in the EPA’s decision. (As the AP noted yesterday, Johnson disputes that.)

Whatever its provenance, the EPA’s decision will have country-wide repercussions because more than a dozen states want to regulate greenhouse gas from cars and trucks.

William Thomsen

July 2, 2008, 6:10 p.m.

More corruption which will go unpunished. I would suggest that the congress start impeachment proceedings but I know they will not. Everyone in the government, regardless of the laws they have broken, gets a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
After hearing of Rep. Kucinich’s move to start impeachment proceedings against the president I called every democratic representative on the House Judiciary Committee (where the measure was sent to die) to ask them to support the bill.  At least two members of the committee were co-sponsors, however the Speaker of the House (Rep. Pelosi) has refused to act on the measure. The people have no remedy for the lawless behavior of our public officials and the congress appears to not have enough courage, as a body, to stand for anything other than re-election. As recent judicial rulings have shown even the death of people and the destruction of their livlihoods results in little or no relief (relief may lower a stock dividend and, apparently, that can never ever happen).
The congress which was elected on the platform of opposing illegal activities by the executive branch of government have completely failed (by actions and votes, if not sound-bites and statements) to support and defend honest and accountable government and to uphold the rule of law.  Most members of Congress do not seem to be aware that they are part of a co-equal branch of the government and seem content to let our system of checks and balances collapse. They also appear willing to grant retroactive immunity for law breakers.
But I must give credit where credit is due and thank Rep. Waxman (Thank you Rep. Waxman!) for standing up for the people of the United States, if just this once.

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