Senators Call for EPA Chief to Resign
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and committee members Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) called for the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson on July 29, charging that he had given misleading testimony before Congress; refused to cooperate with Congressional oversight; and based agency decisionmaking on political considerations rather than scientific evidence or the rule of law.
The case against Johnson is outlined in a Sense of the Senate resolution Boxer and Whitehouse planned to introduce.
The senators asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to investigate apparent contradictions between the sworn testimony of Administrator Johnson and the testimony of other sworn witnesses regarding the circumstances surrounding EPA's denial California's request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act to set strong standards for global warming emissions from vehicles.
"Administrator Johnson wants to punt climate change to the next administration, and he might be successful -- but he is not going to punt on democracy," said Klobuchar. "We can no longer pretend that there was no political interference at the Environment Protection Agency when time and time again we see partisan politics prevailing over professionalism, and special interest spin prevailing over science."
On Dec. 19, 2007, Johnson denied a request by California for a waiver of the Clean Air Act that would permit the states to set tough standards on global warming pollution from motor vehicles. This was the first time in more than 50 instances that EPA has ever denied outright a California waiver request. In sworn testimony before the committee, Johnson stated that he based his decision on California's failure to meet criteria required under the Clean Air Act, and said that the decision was "mine and mine alone."
However, former Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett has since testified that Johnson had, in fact, determined that California had met Clean Air Act criteria necessary for approval of the waiver and had communicated to the Administration that he intended to grant the waiver in part. Burnett further testified that Johnson only reversed course and denied the waiver after White House officials informed him of President Bush's "policy preference" for a single regulatory system -- even though the Clean Air Act clearly contemplates a dual system in cases where the statutory criteria for the waiver are met.