After pouring over more the 27,000 pages of documents and listening to the sworn testimony of eight EPA officials, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, has come to the general conclusion that EPA administrator Stephen Johnson is not as independent as he claims regarding the decision to deny a waiver allowing California to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions.
Johnson has insisted the the decision was his alone, yet several participants at an EPA staff meeting have testified that Johnson had been on board with at least a partial waiver. One participant at the meeting, Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett, said to Senate investigators that Johnson was “very interested in a full grant of the waiver,” then thought that a partial grant of the waiver “was the best course of action”.
Documents show that EPA staff had recommended the waiver be granted.
Johnson’s completely independent decision came only after the White House came a-calling.
Waxman’s committee has repeatedly subpoenaed the EPA for documents relating to the decision, many times receiving blank pages or documents redacted with gaffer’s tape (tacky at best – everybody know that gaff tape isn’t the best choice for redacting your documents).
The EPA continues to withhold 32 documents relating specifically to “telephone calls or meetings involving at least one high-ranking EPA official and at least one assistant to the president or the president” reported the New York Times on Monday evening.
It’s a Pretty Simple Question Mr. Administrator
Johnson’s refusal to say whether he specifically discussed the California waiver or other rulings (such as the ozone standard) with the White House was starting to get under Chairman Waxman’s skin at a hearing this morning. Waxman expressed, in essence, astonishment that such supposedly smart people have such conveniently poor memories, with Johnson finally saying that to admit to a discussion (not the content, just the fact that it happened) was none of anybody’s business.
That’s because Johnson is The Decider – But wait, I thought that was Dubya Bush?