In December, EPA administration Stephen Johnson rejected “California’s long-standing request for a waiver from federal law to be able to implement its own landmark regulations to slash greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.”
According to new documents released today by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Johnson, a political appointee, overruled his own staff, who in October recommended that California receive the waiver. According to the case laid out in briefing slides, EPA staff believed that legally, the agency could not deny California’s waiver:
SLIDE – “If We Grant . . .”
· “Likely suit by manufacturers”
· “EPA is almost certain to win such a suit”
· “Grant will likely allow CA standards to go into effect . . . ”
· “Grant would be generally consistent with federal GHG rule”
SLIDE – “If We Deny . . .”
· “Almost certain lawsuit by California”
· “EPA likely to lose suit”
Substantively, the staff also argued in this October presentation that California needed the waiver in order to mitigate the effects of climate change:
California continues to have compelling and extraordinary conditions in general (geography, climatic, human and motor vehicle populations – many such conditions are vulnerable to climate change conditions) as confirmed by several recent EPA decisions.
Earlier this month, California and 15 other states sued the EPA over its refusal to allow them to set their own tougher vehicle-emissions standards. Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, California has regularly been allowed to set its own standards and has emerged as a “national leader in developing air quality protections.”
Johnson’s decision to overrule his staff follows a trend by President Bush’s political appointees to put politics over science. In 2003, for example, FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford decided to block over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill, despite recommendations by the agency’s scientists. Career professionals at the Justice Department who advised rejecting Georgia’s discriminatory voter ID law were also overruled by the department’s political appointees.
(HT: The Crypt)