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Bombshell: Bush EPA Administrator said the science necessitated action on global warming — President overruled EPA due to Cheney ¦ and Exxon Mobil

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In hearing, Upton stars as Cheney, powered by Koch Industries

By CAPAF’s Daniel J. Weiss

On the eve of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing (watch live here at 9:30 am) on legislation to block EPA from setting standards to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a January 2008 letter from then EPA Administrator Steven Johnson to President George W. Bush.  Johnson’s letter told President Bush that the administration must make an “endangerment finding” that carbon pollution endangers public health and the environment.  He also told the president to use EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce this pollution.

The Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v EPA decision still requires a response. That case combined with the latest science of climate change requires the Agency to propose a positive endangerment finding”¦.  the state of the latest climate change science does not permit a negative finding, nor does it permit a credible finding that we need to wait for more research.

Johnson, to his credit, acknowledged that that there was more than adequate evidence that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants endangered Americans.  Johnson’s successor, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, concluded:

That the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases “” carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) “” in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Johnson also told Bush that his administration must act to cut this pollution.

Within the next several months, EPA must faceregulating greenhouse gases from power plants, some industrial sources, petroleum refineriesand cement kilns.

EPA plans to follow Johnson’s lead.  It will propose reductions for power plants and petroleum refineries this summer and fall, respectively.

Johnson also included a more detailed plan with his letter to Bush:

Phase 1

“¢ In response to the Supreme Court mandate in Massachusetts v EPA, issue a proposed positive endangerment finding for public notice and comment as agreed to in the policy process.

“¢ In response to the direction in EISA, issue a proposed vehicles rule jointly with the Department of Transportation to implement the new EISA and address issues raised in the Supreme Court case.

“¢ To address requirements under the Clean Air Act, issue a proposed rule to update the New Source Review program to raise greenhouse gas thresholds to avoid covering small sources and to better define cost-effective, available technology.

Unfortunately, Johnson was not allowed to implement this plan.  Politico reports that

Johnson was ready to advance on greenhouse gas pollution limits but Bush overruled him after hearing counter-arguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department and Exxon Mobil Corp.

Because Bush did not act, the Obama Administration used Johnson’s game plan, issuing an endangerment finding, setting new motor vehicle fuel economy and carbon dioxide tail pipe standards, and ensuring that these rules only cover the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.  In other words, EPA’s recent steps to protect public health by reducing carbon pollution are the same steps urged upon President Bush.

Energy Committee Chair Fred Upton has already drafted legislation to block EPA from these common sense, moderate steps to reduce pollution.  He seems determined to play the Cheney role, while Koch Industries – a major polluter and Upton backer -fills in for ExxonMobil.

When Waxman released the bombshell letter, he wrote Upton to remind him that we now know there was a political consensus that we must reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

As Administrator Johnson’s letter makes clear, both Republican and Democratic Administrations have had the same view of the science:  carbon emissions are a serious threat to our nation’s welfare.  I urge you to leave the science to scientists and drop your effort to use legislation to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding.

Shamefully, Upton seems determined to ignore the science, Americans’ health, and his own past statement that

Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.

Instead, Wednesday’s hearing on his Pollution for Everyone Act will be loaded with known climate science deniers and big oil shills.  It will be as impartial as the Salem Witch Trials, but with far graver consequences.

By Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund

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23 Responses to Bombshell: Bush EPA Administrator said the science necessitated action on global warming — President overruled EPA due to Cheney ¦ and Exxon Mobil

  1. Mike says:

    “…we now know there was a political consensus that we must reduce carbon dioxide pollution.”

    We now know there was a political conspiracy to block the reduction of carbon dioxide pollution.

  2. mike roddy says:

    Upton and his friends are an embarrassment to our country. Let’s see who steps up, preferably someone closer to the center of power than Waxman and Gore.

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    The fossil fuel interest value money above the lives of billions of innocent people, including the descendants of everyone reading this site.

    And this is a surprise why, exactly…?

  4. Wit's End says:

    Another bombshell:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/08/saudi-oil-reserves-overstated-wikileaks

    When this sinks in, it won’t be just Egypt and Tunisia protesting in the streets.

  5. Leif says:

    Mike, @2: Perhaps President Obama might take a stab at ushering in these rules for the betterment of society at large and not the moneyed interests of the already rich.

  6. Ed Hummel says:

    This is where Obama’s use of the bully pulpit should hit the airwaves and newstands to refute this criminal move by the Republicans in Congress!

  7. paulm says:

    Fascism rearing its ugly head.

    Lets beat it back folks….

  8. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    All of this above was in January of 2008. Then in following July these two things happened in one single week. Here are the videos.

    1.) The Daily Show reports White House wont open the EPA email containing their recommendations until they change it.

    http://tinyurl.com/4kwscrd

    2.) CNN reports the EPA claims someone in Cheney’s office censored their report that was used for Congressional testimony. They removed sections on the adverse effects of climate change on public health.

    http://tinyurl.com/5npnv4

  9. Joe,

    EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson handled the denoily onslaught very well — one smart cookie on the side of science & reason.

    ~IANVS

    [JR: Yes, I thought she did well.]

  10. David Smith says:

    Can Standing members of the Federal House and Senate be impeached? Is there a line that cannot be crossed where one’s representative can be identified as no longer representing the interests of those in the district or the country? Just wondering.

  11. Artful Dodger says:

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
    —- G.W. Bush, Washington, DC, Aug. 5, 2004

    “Mission Accomplished”…

  12. CTG says:

    The time for action is RIGHT NOW. We, the people, need to stand up in defence of science, and give our elected representatives the message that global warming is a problem that the world needs to start addressing now. Today.

    Get on the streets.

  13. Artful Dodger says:

    Getting closer now:

    “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.”— G.W. Bush, Washington, DC, May 12, 2008

    And my all-time favorite own goal:

    “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” –in parting words to world leaders at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as those present looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

  14. Jay Alt says:

    When Cheney finally goes to meet his Master, I can’t imagine flags remaining at half-mast for long.

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    David Hamilton Koch (pronounced “coke”, born May 3, 1940) will be long gone when most of us and our children are still around. #

    Further his wikipedia entry states:

    Koch is unsure if global warming is caused by humans and thinks a warmer planet would be good because “[t]he Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food”

    To bad his utopian dream is not backed up by the science or already observed trends in hunger, food crisis and riots throughout the world. With this type of die hard dinosaur you will just earn anarchy and utter chaos.

  16. Will G. says:

    Can’t wait to see committee member and clean energy champion Jay Inslee take on these fossil fools. Should be quite a show tomorrow.

  17. David K says:

    I couldn’t watch the Hearing live today. Does anyone know if it was recorded and if it is available online somewhere?

  18. Mark Shapiro says:

    Thank you, Artful Dodger, for the fascinating Bush quotes.

    I wondered about the line: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter” when he threw it out. Was he simply putting Cheney’s meanness on open display to the world? I don’t expect him ever to say it, but I believe that Bush knows just how vile Cheney is, and he is trying somehow to wash it off of himself.

    Too bad it won’t wash.

  19. You wanna read a good one? Check out this Financial Times article:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/02/climate_policy

    “But there are a few caveats worth noting. One is that economic resiliency can co-exist quite easily with significant levels of human suffering:

    …If the entire population of Bangladesh dropped dead tomorrow, per capita GDP would go up. A 20 percent increase in the death rate of Americans over the age of 65 would cause our per capita growth rate to accelerate. It’s important to understand these facts, but it’s strange to think of them as optimistic scenarios…”

    That is how these people think.

  20. Chris Winter says:

    That article in The Economist is pretty good. Way too sanguine, but worth reading. It even links to a CP post (but it mangles the URL).

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    “The forces that tend for evil are great and terrible, but the forces of truth and love and courage and honesty and generosity and sympathy are also stronger than ever before.”
    Theodore Roosevelt

  22. Ben Lieberman says:

    The squelched Bush-era EPA plan should be one of the most widely reported stories of the year, but will it even be noticed?

  23. Michael Gaul says:

    Brilliant! Now can we count on the replacement administration to effect the change their position was earned upon the promise of?

    Artful Dodger says:
    February 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
    —- G.W. Bush, Washington, DC, Aug. 5, 2004

    “Mission Accomplished”…