EPA administrator, Sen. Boxer clash over White House meeting

| 2/29/2008

The EPA’s administrator, Stephen Johnson, won’t say whom he met with at a May 2007 meeting at the White House regarding California’s waiver request to enforce new greenhouse gas rules – leading one California senator to question what Johnson is hiding.

California wants to enforce new greenhouse gas rules for cars and light trucks, but needs to obtain a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce it. More than 15 other states also want to enforce the law, which calls for a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

The EPA rule doesn’t mandate restrictions for heavy-duty trucks, but the fight over its adoption could be significant in future truck regulation.

Johnson formally denied California’s waiver request in December 2007.

At a recent Senate Environment Committee hearing, The Associated Press reported that Johnson confirmed having discussions about the waiver request with White House officials but wouldn’t say whether the Bush administration told him what to do.

“I value that ability to have candid conversations,” Johnson said, according to The AP. “The decision was mine and mine alone.”

“I don’t know what you’re hiding,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, responded.

Boxer released a statement on Friday, Feb. 29, criticizing Johnson for his decision.

“It is shocking that even though the whole world now knows that the professional staff at EPA strongly urged Mr. Johnson to grant California’s waiver, he completely walked away from his advisers, the science and precedent and did the bidding of the special interests instead,” Boxer said.

“This decision is especially disappointing and incomprehensible because the administrator’s position will not stand up in court, and the presidential candidates have all said they will sign the waiver. It will only result in more delay in cleaning up our air and tackling the challenge of global warming.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer