Boxer and EPA Director Spar Over California Waiver – Documents Censored with Duct Tape

EPA redacts documents sent to senate committee with duct tapeBack in December I wrote about, as did many others, the long-awaited decision from the Environmental Protection Agency to grant California a waiver (like it has done some 50 or so times before) allowing California to enforce a state law regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. 

Despite the automakers losing four separate lawsuits trying to stop it, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2006 that the EPA does have a mandate to control CO2 and other greenhouse gases, EPA director Stephen Johnson shocked everyone (except, I would guess, the rest of the Bush Administration) by denying California the waiver, and thereby stopping 16 other states from enforcing similar laws passed by its citizens.

The promised lawsuit from California was filed on January 2nd and today California Senator Barbara Boxer has called Director Johnson to Congress to explain his actions. This after requests for documents from the Environment and Public Works Committee, that Boxer chairs, were denied, and then reluctantly supplied on condition that representatives from the EPA literally “stand over the shoulders” of committee members reviewing the documents. But wait, there’s more. Apparently the documents were censored using white duct tape.  

Are you freaking kidding me?

Ah, but we’re still not done. It seems as if Johnson ignored the recommendations of his own staff at the EPA in denying the waiver. The actual conclusion from the EPA was that California had "compelling and extraordinary conditions" to justify its own tailpipe law – a recommendation that was sent to the White House before Johnson countermanded his own people and denied the waiver.

Despite all this, Stephen L. Johnson, George Bush’s Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, stands firm. Everyone else is wrong, and he is right – sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Reports are that after his attendance at the Senate hearing, Johnson plans to stop off at the nearest hardware store to buy a few rolls of duct tape. (OK, I made that part up)


Sources and Further Reading
LA Times
Environmental News Network
Wired Science
Associated Press

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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