4-09-08 by dugan
So, did the White House "influence" the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last December to kill states’ plans to regulate greenhouse emissions from tailpipes? Some of us don’t doubt it for a second. But Rep. Henry Waxman today gave up on negotiating for the documents that would decide the issue, issuing a Congressional subpoena for communications between EPA chief Stephen Johnson and White House on the ruling. It’s a pretty rare step, but Waxman says he’s got good reason.
Waxman, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the AP that "he has found evidence that
officials from the White House and the agency met before the EPA
decided to block the state law. He did not disclose the evidence."
Do we smell whistleblower?
The EPA staff that reportedly recommended approval of California’s clean-air plan (later taken up by the other states) was obviously angry. So are California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who’s filing suit against the refusal. It’s hard to count the places where a juicy info leak could have come from.
[Johnson] has said it was his decision alone in December to turn down
California’s request for a waiver that would have allowed the emissions
law to take effect. Johnson has refused to tell lawmakers whether the
White House sought to influence the decision. Democrats have alleged it
was based on politics, not science.
At a recent Senate hearing, Johnson was confronted with records
showing he had a "principals meeting" at the White House last May after
a briefing on the waiver issue. Johnson said he could not remember what
the meeting was about. …
Waxman last month accused the
EPA of withholding hundreds of communications with the White House and
Justice Department over the matter despite his requests. He has issued
subpoenas for other documents from the EPA, including internal agency
papers showing career employees recommended against denying the waiver.
He had been negotiating for the White House papers until Wednesday.
Ah, the "can’t remember" defense, so beloved by the White House, former U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, and now the EPA. Cheers to Waxman.