Before EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson “answered the pleas of industry executives” by announcing his “decision to deny California the right to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles,” auto executives directly appealed to Vice President Cheney. EPA staffers told the LA Times that Johnson “made his decision” only after Cheney met with the executives.
On multiple occasions in October and November, Cheney and White House staff members met with industry executives, including the CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler. At the meetings, the executives objected to California’s proposed fuel economy standards:
In meetings in October with Mr. Cheney and sessions with White House staff members, auto executives made clear that they were concerned not just about the fuel economy measures in the bill but also about the California proposal for stricter emissions standards.
Johnson explained his decision to thwart California by saying that the new energy bill, which the auto industry supported and President Bush signed into law on Wednesday, “made the proposed California standards unnecessary.” One EPA staffer says Johnson’s decision was part of Cheney’s deal with the industry execs brokered at the meetings:
“Clearly the White House said, ‘We’re going to get EPA out of the way and get California out of the way. If you give us this energy bill, then we’re done, the deal is done,'” said one staffer.
Since taking office, Cheney has taken “a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business” while undermining any real action to combat climate change. For example, he stacked the Committee on Environmental Quality with industry heavyweights, killing Bush’s 2000 campaign promise to place caps on carbon emissions. In 2001, his infamous energy task force also ordered the EPA to “reconsider” a rule requiring stricter pollution controls on power and oil refinery plants.