Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
The case for the California waiver, including an update from the Environmental Protection Agency
- Stephen Johnson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
10:53 Inhofe is attacking a statement made by the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy. This is so typical of these hate-filled people. I was called a traitor by one of the extreme left. See if it’s appropriate to be a part of this organization. “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. I will launch a campaign against you. Go ahead guy, take me on.” The waiver request strikes me as a backdoor effort, though I need some education on this, to usurp the Congress’s role in setting CAFE standards. If a handful of states are able to come up with standards different from the United States, what will happen to CAFE standards?
Johnson There are two sections of the Clean Air Act: Section 209, for California waiver petitions. There are three conditions if any are triggered to deny the petition. Section 202 deals with mobile sources.
Inhofe It’s very elaborate what the law requires you to do. I think you have done your job. How can California assess the CAFE standards to be so radically different from the Department of Transportation’s estimation? CARB requires about 44 MPGs and 27 MPGs for trucks. Don’t you think the federal regulators know more about it than CARB? How can CARB’s mistaken feasibility assessment be corrected?
Johnson There is a case before the 9th Circuit. In the meantime we are continue to review and evaluate voluminous and unprecedented comments on the waiver.
11:01 Lautenberg I think you’re wrong on this issue. It amounts to footdragging.
Johnson I don’t believe it is legal for me to lobby any member of Congress. I think it is good for members of Congress to talk with each other. The responsibility to make a decision lies solely with me.
Lautenberg We’re talking about a forever delay here. Eighteen months while the air is pollution, despite Sen. Inhofe’s disbelief climate change is happening. He called it a hoax. We have hoax floods and hoax droughts and hoax hurricanes and hoax tornadoes. Mr. Johnson, the one thing I don’t want to see happen is the demise of our automobile industry. But it ought not be juxtaposed with the threat of climate change. This footdragging is unacceptable. Is it true that the request for the waiver has been in for eighteen months?
Johnson The waiver request came in December 2005. In February of 2007 we informed California that we were going to await the Supreme Court decision.
Lautenberg Those details are irrelevant to the urgency of climate change.
Johnson I agree that there is an urgency to deal with the voluminous comments. Climate change is a very serious issue and we have a responsibility to deal with this in a timely and deliberate fashion. There are still thousands of comments. We just received 800 pages from California. It takes time for our staff to do a thorough review.
Lautenberg Why don’t we see the urgency to do something about climate change? Can you imagine that California is trying to delay this?
Boxer California is going to sue to get action.
11:12 Lautenberg If this was a fire, action would be taken. We are facing lots of dangerous situations. Any delays put our society at risk. I urge you to try and expedite this waiver request.
11:14 Carper I want you to fully respond to my request.
Johnson Thank you for your leadership. I want to apologize for any miscommunication.
11:24 Boxer These thirteen states want to do it yesterday.
11:30 Boxer The EPA’s job is to protect the public health and welfare. Is the Bush administration opposed to granting the waiver?
Johnson We’re going through a very deliberate process.
Boxer Is the administration opposed to granting this waiver?
Johnson The administration recognizes the responsibility to make an independent decision.
Boxer The DOT was calling members of Congress attacking the waiver. Is it appropriate for the administration to lobby Congress against the waiver?
Johnson I respectfully defer to the Department of Transportation.
Boxer You are responsible for the health and welfare of the people of this country. You sit here and can’t condemn that this administration has been lobbying Congress against this waiver.
Johnson I’m not responsible for the DOT. I defer to the DOT.
Boxer If you defer you say that you think it’s okay.
Johnson I defer to the DOT.
Boxer Since we know members of DOT were actively lobbying members of Congress, were you aware this was going on?
Johnson I told the secretary of the DOT I was inclined not to grant an extension.
Boxer That’s not my question.
Johnson I described my awareness in my conversation with the secretary of the DOT.
Boxer Did you try to stop the DOT from soliciting opposition?
Johnson My responsibility is not to the DOT.
Johnson I’m good, but I’m not that good to oversee every email in the DOT. I did not see a script;
Boxer You did not know they were lobbying Congress.
Johnson I only talked with her about talking with her constituency.
Boxer Who’s her constituency? She’s not an elected official.
Johnson There are members of Congress and governors who are particularly interested in transportation issues.
Boxer Your constituency is the American people. I believe this administration has already decided not to grant this waiver. My belief is there’s going to be hiding behind this executive order. Now you’re using the comments, most of which are form letters in favor of the waiver, as an excuse. You’ve said nothing to condemn what the DOT did. Your job is to protect my constituents and the rest of the country. I couldn’t be more disappointed. We’re going to keep the pressure on. Thank you very much and we stand adjourned.