EPA Defies Another Subpoena: 'It May Create Erroneous Impressions' 1

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 17 Apr 2008 22:25:00 GMT

Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room.

In continued defiance of Congressional oversight, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has flatly declined to obey a subpoena from the House Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence. The subpoena for documents relating to the EPA’s refusal to obey the Supreme Court mandate to regulate greenhouse gases was issued by a unanimous, bipartisan vote on April 2, a year after the Supreme Court decision.

On April 11, the EPA requested and received an extension to respond, but today the agency has decided not to turn over the documents: Grave Concerns

Whether or not the EPA has “grave concerns” about “erroneous impressions,” a “chilling effect,” and “institutional prerogatives,” these are not legally defensible reasons to defy a Congressional subpoena. In a terse response, Committee chair Ed Markey (D-MA) found the reasoning “unpersuasive.” The letter continues:

Subpoena Cloud

Of course, if the EPA simply turned over the documents, it would no longer be under such a “cloud.”

The EPA is also defying the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena for related documents on White House involvement. Both letters of refusal were written by EPA assistant administrator Christopher P. Bliley—who was OMB head Jim Nussle’s chief of staff in Congress.

Warming Law notes this defiance likely triggers contempt of Congress proceedings for EPA administrator Stephen Johnson.

View the full letter: EPA 4-16-08 Subpoena Response (PDF)

On Mass vs. EPA Anniversary, Stephen Johnson Delays and Hides 1

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 02 Apr 2008 22:33:00 GMT

Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room.

johnsonOne year ago today, the Supreme Court handed down an epochal decision in the global warming case Massachusetts vs. the Environmental Protection Agency, stating that the EPA had the responsibility to determine how to regulate carbon dioxide for its contribution to global warming. The EPA, led by administrator Stephen L. Johnson, has utterly failed to do so, prompting a series of Congressional investigations and new lawsuits.

Johnson’s adversaries marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision today by continuing to press their case. Officials of 18 states filed suit against the EPA for its continued inaction—their petition “asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to require the EPA to act within 60 days.” By a unanimous vote, the House Global Warming Committee issued subpoenas “for EPA documents showing the Agency’s progress in making the ‘endangerment’ finding and proposing national emissions standards.”

The Supreme Court decision mandated that the EPA:
  • Declare whether greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and need to be regulated;
  • Make a decision on California’s Clean Air Act petition to regulate motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Propose federal regulations for motor vehicle greenhouse emissions.
In the past year, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has only completed one of those tasks, by denying California’s waiver petition following the signing of the 2007 Energy Act in December.

Investigations by Congress, though repeatedly stymied by the agency, have determined that EPA staff actually worked vigorously last year to meet the Court mandate. In late fall Johnson brought the complete package with a health endangerment finding, approval of the California waiver, and motor vehicle regulations to the White House. After that, Johnson issued his waiver denial and all work at the EPA on the issue ceased. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, has vigorously pursued documents related to the California waiver denial, even as the EPA responds to his subpoenas with document requests of their own.

Johnson’s latest act was to declare last week that the EPA would release an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” asking for new round of comments, a delaying tactic promoted by a “memo from the Heritage Foundation.”

He is now fleeing to Australia with his top staff for two weeks to discuss the “ongoing environmental collaboration” between the countries—and fortuitously delay further Congressional hearings. The $280,000 trip is taxpayer-funded.