September 24, 2008

Sen. Boxer Claims EPA Chief Lied To Congress

According to Sen. Barbara Boxer, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lied to Congress about rejecting a request from California to slow-down global warming emissions.

The California Democrat is calling for EPA chief Stephen Johnson to resign.

"You've shown that what Mr. Johnson told us is not the truth," Boxer told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, after questioning Robert Meyers of the EPA. 

Meyers helped Johnson prepare for a meeting at the White House concerning the California decision.

Johnson refused California's request for a waiver to impose new limitations on carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks.  The decision blocked 18 other states from imposing the same limitations.

Previously, Johnson had told the Senate Environment Committee that the decision was based on the advice of EPA experts.

On Tuesday, Meyers told the senate committee that he did not recall an EPA recommendation to reject the waiver, but recalled advice from the EPA to grant the waiver for at least a period of two years.

A spokesman for the EPA disputed Boxer's claims.

"It's clear that a portion of the (EPA) staff believed one way, but the administrator at the end of the day made his decision based on the facts and the law," said EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar. "If Senator Boxer wants to actually legislate and change the law, I imagine that's what the people of California elected her to do."

Senator Boxer supported a similar bill to cap U.S. carbon emissions, but the bill failed to pass the Senate.  The bill was intended to cut U.S. global warming emissions by 66 percent by the year 2050.  Those who opposed the bill said it would cost the public jobs and would further increase ever rising fuel prices.

In 2007 the EPA was compelled by a Supreme Court ruling to study whether global warming posed a serious threat to humans.  In July, the EPA released its study showing a list of health risks including heatwaves, insect outbreaks, wildfires, floods, and droughts.

If a substance poses a serious threat it can be designated a pollutant under the U.S. Clean Air Act.  Doing so allows the substance to be regulated more strictly by the government.

So far the EPA has not issued any rulings on greenhouse gas emissions.  Johnson has asked for public comments on the report and the impact of the Clean Air Act on emissions.

The lengthy timeline for public comment has made action during the Bush administration very unlikely.

Currently the Bush administration does not want to impose economy-wide regulations on emissions. 

The U.S. Is the only major developed country rejecting the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol.


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