FLASHBACK: In Bush Era, Inhofe Decried ‘Chilling Effect’ Of Probing White House ‘Regardless Of Administration’

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who attacked investigations into the years of interference on global warming regulation by the Bush White House, is now calling for probes into Obama’s “Presidential czars” who are taking action. Yesterday, Inhofe, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sent a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson “requesting specific information about White House Coordinator of Climate and Energy Policy Carol Browner, and how her office has exercised authority over the Environmental Protection Agency.”

This champion of “transparency,” however, attacked an investigation into the White House’s interference with the EPA last year, saying that “regardless of Administration, the President acting through the entire executive branch is fully entitled to express his policy judgments to the EPA Administrator”:

Instead we are here to politicize the internal deliberative process of the Administration under the guise of an update on the science of global warming hearing. While I welcome the opportunity to discuss the latest science on global warming, doing it in this heavily political setting with a predetermined outcome focused on internal deliberations of the Executive is not the right venue for such discussion. It is my view that regardless of Administration, the President acting through the entire executive branch is fully entitled to express his policy judgments to the EPA Administrator, and to expect his subordinate to carry out the judgment of what the law requires and permits. It can be argued that the “unitary Executive concept” promotes more effective rulemaking by bringing a broader perspective to bear on important regulatory decisions. . . .

Therefore, I consider this debate over censorship within the Administration to be a nonissue. All administrations edit testimony and all documents go through interagency review before any final agency action. I cannot support any investigations that could have a chilling effect within the deliberative process of the Administration, and cause future career and political employees from refraining from an open and honest dialogue.

By some strange miracle, Inhofe has had a complete change of heart on the inviolability of the “unitary executive” during the Obama presidency. In yesterday’s letter, Inhofe requests “all correspondence and records” from “all meetings, discussions and conversations between EPA and Carol Browner,” which “includes but is not limited to the following: letters and other written communications, electronic communications, phone records, meeting notes, documents prepared to summarize meetings and agendas, meeting dates, including attendees of listed meetings, and transcripts and notes from stakeholder briefings.”


In June, Inhofe even supported a criminal investigation into whether the EPA was “suppressing science.” Inhofe’s newfound love for transparency in the executive branch stands in utter contradiction to his professed outrage last year:

INHOFE, 10/6/09: It’s astonishing that EPA, so confident in the scientific integrity of its work, refuses to be transparent with the public about the most consequential rulemaking of our time.

INHOFE & BARRASSO, 9/23/09: For example, our letter asks for — and we believe it’s important for the public to know — all communications between experts inside and outside of the agency who helped influence how the Agency arrived at the scientific conclusions found in the TSD.

INHOFE & BARRASSO, 8/4/09: From our limited vantage point, EPA’s process of determining endangerment appears to be marred by bias and, to some extent, political manipulation.

INHOFE, BARRASSO, & VITTER 6/30/09: In the coming weeks, we will make a series of inquiries to ensure EPA’s process governing the development of the endangerment finding is open and transparent — and that the Agency considers all view-points, and makes use of the best available, and most up-to-date, scientific data.