Stephen Johnson is a career professional, now the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is reported to be very religious and to hold prayer meetings with select staff at the start of the day. Apparently he also takes “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” seriously. Too bad he doesn’t take the US law and his sworn responsibility to protect its citizens from environmental hazards as seriously. New revelations show he is a liar, morally corrupt and intellectually dishonest. I guess prayer has its limits as a motivator of probity:
Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson originally backed California’s effort to set the nation’s toughest vehicle emissions limits, but he dropped his support under pressure from the White House, according to a new congressional report.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, said the new details – revealed in sworn testimony from top EPA officials – showed that the White House “played a decisive role in the rejection of the California motor vehicle standards” in December.
A spokesman for the EPA said Johnson stands by his decision and called the report “distraction-oriented political tactics.”
EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett told the committee in a deposition that Johnson “was very interested in a full grant” of California’s waiver in August and September of last year. Later in autumn, Burnett said, the EPA administrator came to believe that a partial grant of the waiver “was the best course of action.”
A partial grant would have allowed the state to implement its rules for several years, starting with 2009 model years.
The committee staff then pressed Burnett on whether the White House had communicated its views about California’s request to Johnson.
“I believe the answer is yes,” he replied. But Burnett said he’d been instructed by EPA not to answer further questions about the White House’s role.
Asked if Johnson had changed his view after his discussions with the White House, Burnett said, “He ultimately decided to deny the waiver.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
Etc., etc., meaning more of what we have come to expect from this gang of crooks. It’s now pretty clear that Johnson and his staff thought either a full or partial waiver was indicated for California but that Johnson overruled his entire staff and his own judgment at the behest of the White House:
The administration has long opposed efforts by California and at least 16 other states to set more-stringent vehicle emissions standards to fight global warming. Johnson’s decision thrilled the auto industry, which had been seeking to block California’s rules in the courts. California and other states have sued the EPA over the December decision.
The decision has high stakes: New federal fuel economy rules, cited by Johnson when he made his decision, would require cars and trucks to get 35 miles per gallon by 2020. But the rules California proposed are much tougher – requiring 44 miles per gallon by 2020, which state officials say would cut greenhouse gases 74 percent more than federal law.
Waxman’s report Monday contained other details: It had been revealed earlier that Johnson overruled his own legal and technical staff in denying California’s waiver request, but the new report showed the depth of the EPA staff’s opposition.
During a Sept. 21 meeting, Johnson pulled his staff into a room and polled them on what he should do. Not a single staffer opposed the waiver, several EPA officials who attended the meeting told the committee.
The staffers agreed that California had met the “compelling and extraordinary conditions” required by the Clean Air Act to grant a waiver. Karl Simon, who heads the unit within the Office of Transportation and Air Quality that handles waivers, said he told Johnson at an Oct. 31 meeting that if EPA denied the state’s request, “I think the odds are we will lose” in court.
Several EPA veterans told the committee they were stunned by Johnson’s decision because everything in the record supported the state’s case.
“Yes, I was surprised,” said Rob Brenner, director of Policy Analysis and Review for the agency. “… The analyses that had been put together seemed to point towards either a full or a partial waiver.
“It was difficult to see how (Johnson) arrived at that decision, given the information that had been provided and the consensus among the staff,” said Maureen Delaney, a program analyst in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “… It seemed like a difficult place to get to.”
We earlier noted that the White House was stonewalling the committee, and indeed refused to turn over 32 subpoenaed documents on grounds of “executive privilege.” One wonders what else we don’t know about this sorry episode. The fact that the committee got the statements it did on the record and under oath is itself remarkable and a measure of the degree of dismay amongst EPA professionals.
In some ways none of this is a surprise, in itself a really pathetic commentary on the current administration. On the other hand, having it confirmed is still a jolt. The only thing I can think of is there are only 243 days left for these moral cretins at the wheel of the bus. They drove it into a ditch. It’s not going to be easy pulling it out.