House Appropriations Committee

Interior and Environment Subcommittee

FY 2009 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Budget 3

B-308 Rayburn
Tue, 26 Feb 2008 18:30:00 GMT

Witness
  • Stephen L. Johnson, Director. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
From E&E News:
Pressed by House panel, EPA chief defends waiver decision (02/26/2008) Katherine Boyle, E&ENews PM reporter

U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson defended his rejection today of California’s waiver request that would have allowed state regulation of motor vehicles’ emissions of greenhouse gases in the wake of the release of agency documents showing that top EPA officials strongly disagreed with him.

Appearing before the House Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Johnson said climate change is not a unique California problem and the state’s petition for a Clean Air Act waiver did not meet the “compelling and extraordinary conditions” required by law.

“Every time another governor, another state representative talks about the need for their state to address global climate change, they’re actually making my very point on the California waiver,” he said.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released documents showing EPA staff members strongly supported granting the waiver.

A presentation prepared for the director of EPA’s Transportation and Air Quality, Margo Oge, urged Johnson to grant the waiver and suggested he would face great outside pressure to deny it.

“If you are asked to deny this waiver, I fear the credibility of the agency that we both love will be irreparably damaged,” the presentation says. “You have to find a way to get this done. If you cannot, you will face a pretty big personal decision about whether you are able to stay in the job under those circumstances.”

It is “obvious” there is “no legal or technical justification for denying” the waiver, says the presentation prepared by Chris Grundler, Oge’s deputy director at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Michigan.

Johnson said he only became aware of the presentation when Congress requested documents on the waiver decision.

“It was never presented to me,” he said.

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) pressed him, asking if Oge ever raised the issues in the presentation.

But Johnson again denied seeing the presentation, although he didn’t say whether Oge raised those points.

“I received a lot of comments from my professional staff, and they presented me with a wide range of options,” Johnson said. “One of the options was denial. One of the options was to grant the waiver.”

Johnson said he will issue a final decision document on the waiver by the end of the week.

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